Timothy Collins

Why did AAPL tank on Tuesday?

December 2, 2009: 1:14 PM ET

Apple fell 2.6% on Dec. 1 in an ugly close that left investors deeply suspicious

Apple had already dropped sharply twice on Tuesday -- once at 10 a.m. and again at 3:25 p.m. -- when, 12 minutes before the close, the volume of trading suddenly spiked and the stock went into freefall.

More than 3.5 million shares changed hands in a fury of last-minute trading, and when the dust cleared, Apple had fallen 5.27 points (2.6%) for the day to close at $196.97. Nearly 3 of those points were lost in the final 12 minutes, when $2.66 billion of the company's market capitalization evaporated in less time than it takes to drink a latte.

What happened? That's for the SEC to determine, assuming they care. But investors were deeply suspicious. In a day when the Dow climbed more than 126 points, there was no news bad enough to trigger a raid on Apple, no downgrades or negative analyst reports.

There was, however, some interesting back-channel chatter on the finance boards and among hedge fund managers. A partial timeline:

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