Hurricane Sandy forces all US stock and options trading to shut down

October 29, 2012
October 29, 2012

Updated at 11:57 p.m. ET

All trading of stocks and options in the United States is cancelled on Monday.

Hurricane Sandy’s impending arrival forced the New York Stock Exchange to halt all trading. It had initially planned to close the physical trading floor on Wall Street but continue trading on an entirely electronic market. All other exchanges, including Nasdaq and the New York Mercantile Exchange, will close completely on Monday, as well.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that NYSE Euronext abandoned its plan to move to electronic trading on Monday after customers complained “that partial closures of the market would be too complicated.” Statements issued late on Sunday night made it seem like the US Securities and Exchange Commission had pressed NYSE Euronext and other exchange operators to shut down entirely.

“We support the consensus of the markets and the regulatory community that the dangerous conditions developing as a result of Hurricane Sandy will make it extremely difficult to ensure the safety of our people and communities, and safety must be our first priority,” NYSE said in a statement. Until late Sunday, the exchange said it was confident in its backup plan to move all trading to its electronic market, known as NYSE Arca, and provide access to customers not already approved to trade there.

The last time the New York Stock Exchange closed for a full day due to weather was on Sept. 27, 1985, during Hurricane Gloria. A snowstorm on Jan. 8, 1996, caused the exchange to open late and close early. The exchange closed entirely for two days during the Great Blizzard of 1888.

It’s not clear when trading might resume. Many trading floors could be inaccessible until sometime Wednesday, if Hurricane Sandy procedes as forecasted. Trading could first open on electronic exchanges that don’t require physical trading floors, like Nasdaq, which has its servers in Carteret, New Jersey, and NYSE Arca, whose electronic home is Mahwah, New Jersey.

The rise of electronic trading has mostly rendered physical trading floors obsolete, and the floor of the New York Stock Exchange now serves, in large part, as a big marketing tool. NYSE Euronext has not shown any inclination of scrapping its trading floor, which was renovated in 2009.

Here’s a live webcam of the Wall Street Bull. (And we have a much longer list of webcams in the area, as well.)

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