Apple shares just did something very strange

Apple shares suffered on Wednesday after a very disappointing earnings report. But even in the midst of a punishing session, the stock derived from occasionally chaotic trading an odd spurt of orderliness.

In the first minute of a busy morning session, Apple shares rose up to $98.71 (according to multiple data providers) before quickly trading almost immediately back down to $95.98. The rise to $98.71 appears to be due to a single 100-share order that was executed at 9:30:17 EDT.

From there, the stock recaptured some of its losses on the session, until two hours later, when it turned lower once again.

The odd thing about that trading pattern? In the late morning, Apple topped out at $98.70 — so it was just a penny shy of matching the high of the day.


This is surprising, since whatever the cause for 100 shares to trade up at $98.71, the tick shouldn't be expected to contain much fundamental information about the stock.

The algorithmically driven nature of modern trading may be the cause for this striking pattern.

"We made computers so fast now, they're actually jittery like humans," Dennis Davitt of Harvest Volatility Management told CNBC on Wednesday.

Read MoreApple plunges after earnings, wiping out $46B in market cap

Yet Davitt adds that even "bad ticks" may contain valuable information, based on stocks' observed predilection to return to seemingly nonsensical levels that have been hit.

"There is some merit to paying attention to where stocks go in a vacuum," the longtime options trader said.

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Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's “Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET).   In addition, he contributes to CNBCand CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

Follow Michael Santoli on Twitter @michaelsantoli

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