Speculation on aspects of the downward spiral ranged from cyberattacks, naturally, to fallout from China's month-long stock market decline or even Greek's blossoming financial crisis.
None of the affected companies said any kind of hacking played a part. United Airlines said its U.S. departure flights had been grounded after a "network connectivity issue this morning." Inconvencienced fliers of course took flight on Twitter:
@united trying to get more info! Should I head to the airport? Rebook flight? Leaving out of @iah at 12:55pm. Flight 3789— Jennifer Bauer (@Jen_BauerKPRC) July 8, 2015
@united @WGNNews Did you try turning it on and off?— Mike CS Mullane (@MMully52) July 8, 2015
The New York Stock Exchange, where trading remained frozen as of 2:15 p.m., said cyberattacks had nothing to do with it.
(1 of 3) The issue we are experiencing is an internal technical issue and is not the result of a cyber breach.— NYSE (@NYSE) July 8, 2015
(2 of 3) We chose to suspend trading on NYSE to avoid problems arising from our technical issue.— NYSE (@NYSE) July 8, 2015
(3 of 3) NYSE-listed securities continue to trade unaffected on other market centers.— NYSE (@NYSE) July 8, 2015
The Journal, for its part, eventually managed to get a light version of its site back up, topped with the message "WSJ.com is having technical difficulties. The full site will return shortly."
Ashley Huston, a spokeswoman for News Corp.'s Dow Jones, publisher of the Journal, said she had no further updates.
An enterprising Bloomberg communications rep welcomed people to Bloomberg Business for financial updates.
WSJ website is down, so come to http://t.co/sVpOHVNIrh for the latest on #NYSE (actually, you should have started there)— Emma V. Angerer (@EmmaVAngerer) July 8, 2015
The Journal later tweeted out word that its site was working again:
We're back up—and ready for the Fed! Thanks for your patience.— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) July 8, 2015
Yesterday, Twitter user Anonymous posted a cryptic Tweet that, in retrospect, seemed to predict the Wall Street tech malfunction, but any real connection was unclear.
Wonder if tomorrow is going to be bad for Wall Street.... we can only hope.— Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) July 8, 2015
Hackers conducted a spate of attacks against media outlets in 2013, taking over their social feeds, posting false stories and writing "Syrian Electronic Army Was Here" on NPR's home page. The New York Times website also went down that year, but blamed the outage on an internal technical problem.
Twitter users, as ever, were quick to dispense wisdom on Wednesday's situation.
should i go stock up on bottled water and shotguns— ಠ_ಠ (@MikeIsaac) July 8, 2015
Somewhere in an airport terminal, a stock broker flying United is having the worst day of his life.— Adam Steinbaugh (@adamsteinbaugh) July 8, 2015
~ With contributions from Bloomberg News ~