Stock market panic hobbles financial Web

Financial news sites and personal brokerage systems were slammed by frantic demand for information during one of the largest plunges in U.S. stock market history.

Google Finance stock market plunge
Google Finance was down briefly during Thursday's stock market plunge but fared better than others. Screenshot by Tom Krazit/CNET

A global stock market panic forced many financial Web sites to their knees Thursday, including category leader Yahoo Finance.

At about 11:15 a.m. PDT Thursday, various U.S. stock indexes, including the Dow Jones, plummeted on fears that the current mess in Greece could spread throughout Europe. At one point, the Dow Jones was off more than 8 percent from its opening level, and investors flocked to the Internet in hopes of assessing the damage or understanding the causes.

It wasn't quite at Michael Jackson levels, but Web sites appeared to have trouble keeping up as the demand for information spiked. Yahoo Finance, the consistent leader among U.S. finance Web sites, was down for an extended period of time during the plunge and partial recovery.

Web sites for banks and stock brokers were slammed with requests as investors sought to understand how the plunge was affecting their accounts. A brief summary of CNET employees and readers' experiences noted problems at the Web sites for Wells Fargo, Mint.com, and Charles Schwab, among others. Day-traders complained on Twitter about delays in transactions that in a market moving this quickly can add up to serious money.

But TechCrunch noted that even Twitter, the vanguard of the "real-time Web," couldn't keep up with the speed of this particular plunge, one of the largest intra-day declines in the history of the U.S. stock market.

Immediate numbers on traffic weren't available, but analyst firms will likely have further details once the market closes and the panic eases.

Updated 1:35 p.m. PDT: The Dow Jones closed down 3.2 percent, or 347.80 points, to close at 10,520.32 points. The Nasdaq was off 3.44 percent, or 82.65 points, to close at 2,319.64.

Updated 2:47 p.m. PDT: Yahoo issued a statement Thursday afternoon: "Yahoo Finance experienced intermittent issues related to traffic from today's market activity. We will continue to monitor and resolve the issue as necessary."

Meanwhile, CNBC reported that the whole thing could have been the result of a trader's error in placing an order. Details are still sketchy on that point, but investigations are ongoing.

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