PALM DESERT, Calif. — Shortly after the chief systemic risk officer of the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation warned attendees at a securities operations conference Wednesday that Greece's crisis was a systemic problem, the Dow plunged almost 1,000 points.

The panic-like drop was spurred by concerns about Europe's ability to bail out Greece — and accelerated by heavy doses of automated trading that caused many stocks to enter near-freefall conditions.

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