Stocks: The Witch Was Busy

The Witch Was Busy

It is known on Wall Street as "triple witching hour." It occurs on the third Friday of the last month of each quarter, just before the market closes. Electronic buy and sell orders fly, and something approaching chaos often strikes the market. The gyrations are a familiar but feared aspect of the sophisticated use of computer programs as an integral part of contemporary market strategy.

Again last week Friday was a triple-witching occasion. On the New York Stock Exchange, some 40 million shares changed hands in the last minute of trading. But the movement in the Dow Jones industrial average was...

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