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Flash crash in oil

Milan Radulovic/istockphoto

Crude did something unusual on Monday afternoon: The price in New York plummeted more than $4 (U.S.) a barrel in a matter of seconds, and then rebounded. It hit an intraday low of $94.83 at 1:53 p.m. ET – down about 4.2 per cent.

The snap-back to above $97 a barrel – also within seconds – implies that there was some sort of trading error behind the crazy move. But you can't rule out a crazy rumour either: After all, tensions are high in the Middle East these days, and China and Japan are staring each other down over disputed islands.

However, energy stocks did not seem to be affected by oil's move. Suncor Energy Inc., for example, was down 0.6 per cent in afternoon trading, but had been heading downward fairly steadily since mid-morning trading.

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