Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of General Cable (NYSE: BGC) popped by an astounding 82% in intraday trading today, reaching prices not seen since August 2008.

So what: But then General Cable came back to earth and has traded within a much more narrow 13% range around the $29 mark all day long. While the $51.40 price goes down as a 52-week high in the company's trading records, it was a blip that says nothing of substance about the company or its business.

Now what: This episode recalls memories of the flash crash of last May. Whether caused by hyperactive computerized trading algorithms or by a careless market order at a very inopportune time, this spike underlines the volatility and easy manipulation of small-cap companies with their relatively thin trading volumes. General Cable is still gaining ground today thanks to a buyout bid for rival CommScope (NYSE: CTV), but the 4% boost we're talking about is nowhere near the mirage of the daily highs.  

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Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.