The Dow fell in the last minutes of trading despite a Federal Reserve rate cut and signs that government efforts to shore up credit markets are starting to work.
Erroneous reports about GE’s 2009 profit forecast are widely believed to be the cause of the late day sell-off. That's right, the information was not accurate.
According to Fast Money's Dylan Ratigan, here’s what happened: Jeff Immelt, who is the CEO of General Electric, went out to dinner with a wide group of individuals including some reporters, in Spain. Over the course of that dinner he was holding a casual conversation and was asked about his management philosophy for General Electric in the context of the overall economy.
Immelt responded to a question about that issue by saying that companies should generally try to, in effect, be at least as profitable as they were the year prior. And you take it from there.
It was a casual comment—not a specific comment on earnings or revenue—and was no way intended to alter expectations about the company, Ratigan said.
Nonetheless fragments were reported by Dow Jones, and the comments spooked investors. It just goes to show how volatile this market is, Ratigan said.
The Bottom Line: Be careful of market rumors.
GE is the parent company of CNBC.
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CNBC.com with wires