Several prominent Internet finance portals experienced performance problems this afternoon as the major stock market indicators plunged precipitously, apparently due to an errant trade. The web's most popular financial information site, Yahoo Finance, was inaccessible to many users as the Dow Jones average plunged 700 points in a matter of minutes between 2 and 3 p.m. Eastern time.
"Yahoo! Finance experienced intermittent issues related to traffic from today’s market activity," the company said in a statement. "We will continue to monitor and resolve the issue as necessary." Yahoo said the affected some users, and "not everyone." TechCrunch reports that Google Finance also returned errors during that period.
Shares of major data center companies fell between 2.5 percent and 4 percent on the day. Executives of Rackspace Hosting (RAX) spent the day at the NYSE for the company's first analyst day, and rang the closing bell at the exchange in a subdued ceremony.
As officials of stock exchanges and Wall Street firms sought to sort out the reason for the precipitous drop in the market, evidence mounted that the plunge may have been triggered by erroneous trades. NASDAQ OMX Group quickly said it would cancel all trades of stocks whose price moved 60 percent after 2:40 p.m.
The day's events are already triggering intense scrutiny of high frequency algorithmic trading, a key customer sector for colocation and managed hosting providers. A key focus may be whether automated trading exacerbated pricing problems created by an erroneous trade or trades.