Recovers to close 6.1% below Monday’s opening. A preview of tomorrow’s trading?

Click to enlarge. Source: Yahoo Finance

The chart at right says it all. Apple was sailing along at around 262.75 Euros ($349.35) when Apple AAPL released Steve Jobs’ letter to the staff announcing his latest medical leave.

The stock went into freefall. In the space of 17 minutes, it plummeted €23.25 (8.8%). Within an hour, it had bottomed out at €237.25, a drop of 9.7% that lopped $31 billion off Apple’s market cap.

The stock recovered somewhat before the end of Europe’s trading day. It closed at €244.05 ($324.49), off 6.1% for the day.

The U.S. markets reopen Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. EST. The company is scheduled to released its earnings for the first fiscal quarter of 2011 that afternoon.

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]