1. In 2002, UAL (parent company of United Airlines) filed for bankruptcy, an
event covered at the time by the Chicago Tribune.
2. The story was in the database of the Sun Sentinel, a Florida newspaper
owned by the same company..
3. This last Saturday, lots of people (for reasons unknown) viewed the story
on the Sun Sentinel's website.
4. Enough people viewed the story that it appeared in their list of "Popular
Stories: Business." That list is automatically generated based on
5. Google's News crawler saw the link in the "Popular Stories" list. The
current date, September 8, 2008, appeared on the web page with the story.
The story itself carried no date.
6. Users of Google's "email alert" service who had requested stories
mentioning UAL were sent links to the story. Also, anyone searching
Google News for "UAL" or "United Airlines" would have seen a link to the
7. The UAL story was circulated by Income Securities Advisors Inc., a stock
research firm that publishes reports on the Bloomberg L.P.,
8. On Monday, September 8, at approximately 10:45AM, a headline from the
report flashed across Bloomberg screens.
9. In the next 15 minutes, UAL shares in UAL dropped from almost
$12.50/share to just $3, before trading was halted. At least one block
of 100 shares traded at 1 cent per share, though that trade was later
Eventually UAL put out a press release clarifying that the story was almost
6 years old, and that they were not in bankruptcy. Later that day the stock
(mostly) recovered to over $10/share.
This could be a very clever method of market manipulation.