‘Fat finger’ error blamed for $617 billion stock orders scrapped in Japan

October 1, 2014, 1:21 PM UTC
Pedestrians look at share prices for the Tokyo Stock Exchange at a securities company in Tokyo on August 8, 2014. Tokyo stocks dropped more than 3.0 percent August 8 morning as investors reacted to US President Barack Obama saying he had authorised air strikes on Iraq. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)

This post is in partnership with Time. The article below was originally published at Time.com.

By Sam Frizell, TIME

Over $600 billion worth of stock on the Japanese market was ordered and then abruptly canceled Wednesday before they could be executed, possibly the result of a so-called “fat finger” error, or accidental order.

Stock requests totaled 67.78 trillion yen, or $617 billion, and included 57% of outstanding shares in Toyota (TM), the world’s biggest carmaker, and large stakes in Honda (HMC), Canon (CAJ) and Sony (SNE), Bloomberg reports. Based on electronic orders to buy or sell stock, market makers and arbitragers use computerized strategies to anticipate demand or profit from price discrepancies. Orders are often withdrawn, but investors were surprised by the scale of Wednesday’s cancellations.

“I’ve never heard of orders this big being canceled before,” Ayako Sera, a Tokyo-based market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank Ltd., which oversees about $474 billion, told Bloomberg. “There must have been an error.”

The Japan Securities Dealers Association received an error report before the orders were matched.

Read more at Bloomberg

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