Fat Finger Briefly Trims $4 Billion Off Barclays’ Market Cap

Barclays Plc shares briefly dropped almost 10% in the opening minutes of Wednesday’s session, the most intraday in more than a year, in what traders said was likely due to an error known as a “fat finger.”

The stock entered a volatility auction at about 8:06 a.m. in London after two trades totaling about 48,000 shares at a price of 168.40 pence, according to Bloomberg data. The shares quickly recovered after the five-minute pause and were down 0.3% to 186.32 pence at midday.

Fat Finger Briefly Trims $4 Billion Off Barclays’ Market Cap

Trades made in human error, or even by algorithms, are often referred to as “fat fingers,” a term stemming from the idea that a person’s over-sized digits might cause them to hit the wrong button on a computer keyboard. While generally not uncommon, fat fingers in high-profile stocks like Barclays -- one of the U.K.’s largest publicly traded companies -- are rare.

Wednesday’s apparent error briefly trimmed about 3.2 billion pounds ($4.4 billion) from the bank’s market capitalization.

About two years ago, a fat finger was cited for an 83% drop in shares of investment firm Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd. in Singapore, while in 2018, BNP Paribas Securities was blamed for erroneous orders that knocked almost 10% off the value of Taiwan-listed Formosa Petrochemical Corp.

While erroneous trades are sometimes canceled, there were no cancelations for Barclays as of midday, Bloomberg data show. The day’s low, according to the data, matched that shown on the London Stock Exchange website.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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