April 23, 2013 / 6:41 PM / 5 years ago

REFILE-GLOBAL MARKETS-Markets briefly hit by bogus tweet of White House blasts

* U.S. Treasuries prices briefly surge on “bogus” AP tweet

* Wall St turns volatile but resumes uptrend shortly AP says report false

* Crude oil prices fall as much as 70 cents following report but quickly reverse losses

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK, April 23 (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. (1700 GMT), 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.

“I think there was a lot of damage done on that,” said Sean Murphy, treasuries trader at Societe Generale, New York.

“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.”

More than 180,000 front month 10-year Treasury futures contacts traded in the period between 1:09 and 1:12 p.m. ET (1709 to 1712 GMT).

U.S. stocks sharply cut gains briefly and then bounced back. The dollar pared gains against the yen, and the euro extended declines against the dollar.

In the energy market, crude oil prices fell as much as 70 cents a barrel in a three-minute period following the tweet, but just as quickly reversed those losses as it became clear the AP message was false.

U.S. gold futures spiked by more than $5 an ounce, or 0.4 percent, immediately after the tweet, but by five minutes later were trading lower.

Shortly after it became clear that the AP tweet was bogus, global equity markets resumed their upward trend, with Wall Street higher on strong corporate earnings.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 127.41 points, or 0.87 percent, at 14,694.58. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 13.95 points, or 0.89 percent, at 1,576.45. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 30.05 points, or 0.93 percent, at 3,263.61.

European shares posted their biggest one-day gain in seven months, while the euro hit a two-week low against the dollar after weak German data sparked speculation the European Central Bank could cut interest rates.

The euro fell as low as $1.2971 and market watchers say it may break decisively out of the $1.30-to-$1.32 range that has held for the past few weeks. It was last trading 0.5 percent lower on the day at $1.3000.

MSCI’s world equity index, which is heavily weighted toward U.S. shares, was up 1 percent.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was unchanged with the yield at 1.6945 percent.


Reuters data shows that the benchmark S&P 500 index fell 14.6 points, or 0.93 percent, in the space of three minutes when news of the tweet hit the market. With the S&P valued at roughly $14.6 trillion at the moment of the false tweet, that three-minute plunge briefly wiped out $136.5 billion of the index’s value.

“We see this every time this type of news comes out: liquidity evaporates quickly. High-frequency traders cancel their orders on even one little tweet,” said Dennis Dick, proprietary trader at Bright Trading LLC in Las Vegas.

“They provide so much liquidity and don’t have obligations like market makers did in the past.”

Investors are also on edge following two fatal explosions last week at the Boston Marathon that led to a lockdown in Boston on Friday as police hunted for one of the suspects.

Among the day’s biggest gainers on Wall Street, Netflix Inc shares jumped 25 percent to $217.68 a day after reporting earnings that beat expectations and strong subscriber growth.

Brent crude oil hovered around $100 a barrel in choppy trading on Tuesday after weaker-than-expected manufacturing data from China and Germany darkened the outlook for fuel demand.

The flash HSBC Purchasing Managers’ Index for April fell to 50.5 in April from 51.6 in March as new export orders shrank in China.

The PMI’s 50-point level divides growth from contraction. The data followed lower-than-expected GDP growth for China in the first quarter which helped spark a sharp sell-off last week.

June Brent crude fell by more than $1.50 but recovered to trade up 5 cents at $100.44 a barrel by 2:06 p.m. (1806 GMT). U.S. crude for June delivery was down 3 cents at $89.16.

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