Trading software at Knight Capital Group of New Jersey this week began automatically buying shares in a vast array of companies – like RadioShack, Ford Motor Company and American Airlines – in a 45-minute foray of unauthorised trading. When the company then quickly resold its newly acquired, unwanted stock (its massive stock buys had moved the markets) it found it had lost $440 million – four times the profit it made in 2011.

The loss has seriously hit the company’s ability to conduct business, says The New York Times. The newspaper says Knight Capital has been a hyper-enthusiastic user of automated trading – indeed, it calls Knight Capital an “unapologetic advocate” of it – and says the firm has striven to outperform its competitors by using such systems to their fullest extent.