The U.S. securities industry canceled equity trading on all markets today, moving to protect workers as Hurricane Sandy barreled toward New York City with 70-mile-per-hour winds and the threat of an 11-foot sea surge.
The shutdown, announced by the Securities and Exchange Commission, may extend through tomorrow and followed an earlier decision by the New York Stock Exchange to close floor trading. Risks posed by the storm, expected to come ashore late today in southern New Jersey and potentially affect 60 million people, were deemed too great to require workers to travel.
The last time the NYSE cut trading hours for weather was Jan. 8, 1996, when a blizzard dropped more than 20 inches on New York City. It last closed for a full day for weather when Hurricane Gloria hit on Sept. 27, 1985. Markets have not closed for four days in a row since the start of 2007 when, following a weekend and the New Year’s Day holiday on a Monday, they shut on Jan. 2 to observe a day of mourning for President Gerald Ford’s death the previous week.
“Hopefully we’ll be back to work within 24 or 48 hours,” Ben Schwartz, the Chicago-based chief market strategist at Lightspeed Financial LLC, said in a phone interview. The broker- dealer provides execution services for both retail and institutional clients. “The storm was anticipated and you had to expect issues with the opening of the market with such a big storm coming, so I don’t see longer-term impact.”
American Express Co., the credit-card lender whose headquarters is in lower Manhattan, will shut all its offices in the tri-state region Monday, according to an e-mail from Sarah Meron, a spokeswoman. The firm hasn’t disclosed plans for the following day, she said.