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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Markets for stocks, bonds, oil and commodities were briefly roiled on Tuesday after a bogus report of explosions at the White House.
Shortly after 1 p.m. (6:00 p.m. British time), U.S. government debt prices surged briefly and stocks fell sharply after a false tweet from the Associated Press said there had been two explosions at the White House and that President Barack Obama had been injured.
An Associated Press spokesman told Reuters that an AP Twitter message reporting two explosions in the White House was "bogus." The White House said Obama was fine.
U.S. stocks sharply cut gains briefly and then bounced back. Reuters data shows that the benchmark S&P 500 index fell 14.6 points, or 0.93 percent, in the space of 3 minutes when the Tweet hit the market. With the S&P valued at roughly $14.6 trillion (9.5 trillion pounds) at the moment of the false tweet, that 3-minute plunge briefly wiped out $136.5 billion of the index's value.
ALEX MANZARA, VICE PRESIDENT AT TJM FUTURES IN CHICAGO:
"My initial reaction was there was some truth in the rumour because the market reaction was so instant and violent. Rumours in the old days were spread over the phone. You couldn't trust what you hear over the (phone). Now people should be more wary about what flashes across their computer screens. The emphasis now is speed. By that assertion, you can't ascertain whether the news is valid. This might lead to some withdrawal from this kind of trading, but it's might not be a huge amount."
JOE SALUZZI, CO-MANAGER OF TRADING AT THEMIS TRADING IN CHATHAM, NEW JERSEY:
"It's another dent in investor confidence, that's for sure. But it's not just the equity market, it's every market. All of them. That tells you we're in a world now where everything is kind of linked, and it's kind of like the butterfly effect.
"All it takes is a fake tweet to cause global market turmoil. How crazy is that?
"You have to wonder (about) this system we've built based on technology and speed. Maybe you want to take a step back and say: Hey, these are our capital markets here.
"The SEC's mission is to protect the individual investor. And they don't feel protected today.
"Events like today shatter confidence, and the problem is you don't get confidence back tomorrow."
RUSS CERTO, MANAGING DIRECTOR IN FIXED INCOME, BREAN CAPITAL, NEW YORK:
"A lot of financial market participants are trying to reconcile how the new world information flow can create volatility in the marketplace.
"It's created a lot of confusion. It's somewhat disappointing to most people on trading floors that are trying to consult and make good investment decisions. To have markets dramatically affected by fake tweets is somewhat of a letdown for people that try to deliver value. It's a new low in the capital market sales and trading and investor community.
PAUL SACKS, PRINCIPAL GOLD TRADER AT AURUM OPTIONS STRATEGIES IN NEW YORK:
"(Gold) popped up $4 and came back. The information (on the AP tweet) was coming to us very piecemeal, like it was to everyone else.
"As soon as (gold) started acting a little weird, I pulled all my bids and offers because I wanted to know why something unusual was going on.
"We saw gold and oil spike, we saw the Dow almost make it to unchanged before it came all the way back, so all the liquidity disappeared and people were stopped out on all of the above markets. It's too bad."
FREDERIC RUFFY, OPTIONS STRATEGIST AT WHATSTRADING.COM:
"There's some interest in companies that make security software this afternoon (SYMC, CHKP, FIRE) on reports an AP twitter account had been hacked to tweet a bogus report of an attack on the White House.
"Still, security software names seem to be drawing some interest on the heels of the event,
SEAN MURPHY, TREASURIES TRADER, SOCIETE GENERALE, NEW YORK:
"I think there was a lot of damage done on that. Automatically electronic trading kicks in and they don't know the difference between a fictitious story and the truth and immediately started to buy and took us right back to the day's highs.
I would think that there was a pretty good short base starting to develop in the market and that they got ripped out on that, so there has been a lot of damage. (In Treasuries traders were setting up shorts in anticipation of this week's new bond supply. Today that had helped yields rise after a rally overnight).
"I think there would have been broad damage in equities and Treasuries. When you have this story print when you're at the lows of the day (in price) and it takes you back to the highs of the day (in price), you've done a tremendous amount of damage in very little time."
BILL BARUCH, SENIOR MARKET STRATEGIST AT iiTRADER.com It puts into perspective our increasing dependence on technology and communications. As we put more and more trust in technology for our communications, it brings us back to reality in the sense that these communications are easily misconstrued, easily hacked, so not only can people put out false information, but they can capitalize on it.
CHARLES ST-ARNAUD, FX STRATEGIST AT NOMURA SECURITIES:
"There was a lot of confusion (on the trading floor). Particularly given that it was coming from one source and something so big would have been picked up by Reuters, Bloomberg etc. There was some position closing within those five minutes, however."
SEBASTIEN GALY, A SENIOR CURRENCY ANALYST AT SOCIETE GENERALE SA:
"This hack attack will prove a good test of the positioning of the markets. You now have the sensitivity of the markets to a large negative (fictitious) shock, from which to deduce the positioning of the market.
KIM RUPERT, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL FIXED INCOME ANALYSIS AT ACTION ECONOMICS LLC IN SAN FRANCISCO:
"The markets are jittery because of last week's bombings and then the Toronto arrests yesterday.
"As soon as I saw the markets drop I checked around and they just said it was the AP rumour and that it was bogus, all in the same sentence. I was thinking fat finger mistake but the fact that all the markets responded so quickly suggested that it was some bit of news."
"There's always been rumours that circulate impacting the market. It's not that this is new, but just the fact that it's so instantaneous now and it's got such a broad reach. Before it would take a bit of time to circulate the information, but now it's just like, poof!"
(Americas Economics and Markets Desk; +1-646 223-6300)