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Nasdaq Glitch, Citigroup Switch Make For Nostalgic Day

Nasdaq’s Big Oops: As Prince would say - tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 1999. Or 2000. Or in this case, neither.

The Nasdaq Composite Index did have a brief, if fictional, return to the glory days this morning. As I was observing my magic market spreadsheet, the “new high” indicator started flashing, indicated that the Nasdaq Composite had soared to a record.

Only one problem: at the beginning of the day, the Nasdaq was still more than 50% short of its all time closing high (5048.62 on March 10, 2000). It didn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that this was a glitch of some sort, rather than a great story for the breaking news desk.

Sure enough, Nasdaq released a statement a short time later that some errant trades in a company called Optimer Pharmaceuticals had caused the problem. The trades were erased and we’ve quickly returned to 2007.

Nostalgia Rules: This story wasn’t necessarily a “wow”, but extremely interesting if you’re into business and market history. And I am.

At about 9:30 am, a news release came out from Citigroup , announcing it would henceforth be branding all its businesses using the name “Citi”. To me, though, the more fascinating aspect of this didn’t occur until the fourth paragraph: Citi would sell the familiar red umbrella logo to St. Paul Travelers, which would then rename itself Travelers Corporation.

If that all sounds familiar, that’s because the red umbrella was the logo of the old Travelers Corporation when Citigroup acquired it back in 1993.

Citigroup ultimately spun off Travelers Property Casualty Corp. in 2002. It then merged with St. Paul Cos. In 2003 to create St. Paul Travelers.

The new Travelers will be traded under the ticker TRV - the same ticker the old Travelers used.

The financial markets aren’t the first place you think of when nostalgia is mentioned. But I find it kind of neat when old companies and ticker symbols reappear. In fact, Citigroup mentions in its release that the association between the umbrella and the old Travelers Insurance is still strong with consumers.

I still get a warm feeling when I travel outside the U.S. and see an Esso station - which is what the current Exxon stations were called many decades ago when I was but a child.

Anyone ever get a burger at Wetson’s?

And does anyone remember First National City Bank? You should. It’s the same company that just shortened its name to Citi...