Apple moved quickly Friday to dispel a false report that CEO Steve Jobs had suffered a heart attack, but not before the technology vendor's shares temporarily dropped 5.4 percent.
An anonymous poster on CNN's iReport "citizen journalist" Web site claimed Jobs had been "rushed to the ER" Friday morning after "a major heart attack." The report has now been taken off the iReport site, but as the rumor spread around the Internet Friday, Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple's stock briefly dipped to a 17-month low of $94.65 per share.
Apple, though, was quick to inform several media outlets that the rumor was untrue. The fast response appeared to have been effective by Friday afternoon, as Apple shares rebounded to $97.07 by the close of NASDAQ market hours in New York.
Still, Apple's close marked a 3 percent drop for the day and the first time the company has traded below $100 since May 2007. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into the provenance of the iReport rumor, according to Bloomberg.
Jobs' health has become a recurring source of anxiety for Apple investors, who associate the Apple CEO's leadership with his company's overall strength far more than is the case with other corporations and their chief executives.
The cancer survivor's gaunt physical appearance at Apple product launch events in recent months has been the subject of much discussion and occasional Wall Street panic. In early September, Bloomberg accidently published its on-file obituary for Jobs. That was a mistake that turns out to be a rather common one for news agencies to make, while Friday's possible hoax adds yet another vector to the public's strange, almost viral obsession with Jobs' day-to-day health.