Wall Street traders are hunting for the source of a distressed stock selling spree that caused a sharp slide in several Chinese technology companies and US media groups on Friday.

The mysterious share sales, worth almost $19bn, sparked rumours that a hedge fund or family office had blown up and was moving to wind down billions of dollars worth of its positions.

The trades knocked around $33bn of value off the companies involved, and have captivated Wall Street in what is shaping up to be another volatile year, with big shifts wrongfooting established funds.

Goldman Sachs — one of two banks managing the sales — began emailing investors about the trades well before the market opened, with $6.6bn worth of stock in Baidu, Tencent Music and

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