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.
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.