Published October 29, 2012
Stock and bond markets will be closed on Tuesday, as Hurricane Sandy forced Wall Street to shut down trading for at least a second straight day.
NYSE Euronext and Nasdq OMX Group said they made their decision in consultation with industry executives and regulators, and intend to reopen Wednesday, conditions permitting.
BATS Global Markets, the No. 3 U.S. stock exchange, also said it will be closed on Tuesday. BATS said it was monitoring the situation before providing an update on its Wednesday plans.
"It doesn't make sense to put people in harm's way or to only have half a market," said Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at ConvergEx Group in New York. "If just the electronic market was open, that wouldn't provide enough interest, with everything else still closed."
Bond markets, which closed at noon EDT on Monday, will not reopen on Tuesday, a trade group said.
The hurricane could cost NYSE Euronext , CME Group Inc and Nasdaq OMX Group nearly $6 million in trading revenue each full day that stocks and bond markets are closed, Sandler O'Neill analyst Richard Repetto said.
The U.S. stock exchanges' closure on Monday for Hurricane Sandy came on the anniversary - October 29 - of the 1929 stock market crash.
Equities trading executives on Monday had pressed the stock exchanges to clearly communicate their plans to avoid a repeat of Sunday night. Market participants and regulators decided late on Sunday to shut the stock and options markets for the first time due to weather in 27 years, reversing an earlier plan to keep electronic trading going on Monday, leaving some people complaining about the confusion it caused.
The biggest problem with the New York Stock Exchange's initial plan to trade exclusively over its ARCA electronic system was that the contingency plan that it had created in March had not been vetted by many brokerage firms, the sources said.
The decision on whether to keep markets closed on Tuesday comes as Hurricane Sandy began battering the U.S. East Coast on Monday with fierce winds and driving rain. The monster storm shut down transportation, shuttered businesses and sent thousands scrambling for higher ground hours before the worst was due to strike.
In New York, the mass transit system was shut down on Sunday evening, and many Wall Street employees were working from home, although major financial services firms were open for business at least with skeletal staff. Flooding is already hitting parts of Lower Manhattan and parts of New Jersey even before the storm makes landfall.
Financial companies that had flown executives into New York over the weekend for Monday meetings and conferences scrambled to find ways to keep them busy. One firm offered media interviews with portfolio managers stranded in New York after a conference they were attending was canceled.
LIKE HERDING CATS
The decision to close the stock and options market came on Sunday night after SIFMA, the Wall Street trade group, held a conference call around 11 p.m. to debate whether to close, said a brokerage executive, who requested anonymity because he is not allowed to speak to the media.
"It was like trying to corral cats," the executive said.
Peter Kenny, managing director at Knight Capital in Jersey City, New Jersey, said the bigger financial institutions were willing to have staffing to stay open.
"The closer it got to midnight, the less sense it made to do it, because people were willing to do less and less," he said. "Then we got a message that our building in Jersey City, the front doors are going to be sandbagged, so that effectively ended that."
NYSE spokesman Richard Adamonis declined comment on friction with the brokerage community over the on-again, off-again decision to open trading during the storm.
"Through the storm, SIFMA has and will continue to work with a variety of market participants to ensure smooth market function," spokeswoman Liz Pierce said in an email.
BONDS AND IPO PRICINGS
The securities industry would have preferred that bond markets had remained closed all day Monday, but the U.S. Treasury department had a bill auction scheduled that had to proceed, two people familiar with the situation said.
Most of the trading activity on Monday in bond markets was in money markets, according to a source at a large Wall Street bank.
Clients have been trying to quickly roll over debt that was coming due Monday and Tuesday in the small window they had this morning before markets close. There was very little to no activity in other markets, the source said.
The stock market's closure means that companies that were looking to go public may have to wait longer. Six initial public offerings currently scheduled to price later this week will likely have to be pushed back, equity capital markets sources said. They added that decisions were being made now between underwriters and the issuers.
"We can't market some of these deals while no one is on the other side of the phone," said one equity capital markets banker at a large Wall Street bank. Some deals may be pushed back to next week after the election, the source said.
A spokesperson for Restoration Hardware, the highest profile of the public offerings set to launch this week, could not be reached for a comment.
Radius Health, which was set to price its $61.8 million IPO later this week, is in a "wait-and-see mode," said Chief Financial Officer Nick Harvey. "We haven't made any decisions yet," he added.
Equity futures continued to trade through Monday morning, closing at 9:15 a.m. EDT. CME Group Inc said it was closing its interest-rate futures trading as of noon EDT.
(Reporting by Jessica Toonkel, Chuck Mikolajczak, John McCrank, Jed Horowitz, Olivia Oran, Lauren Tara LaCapra, Jed Horowitz, Ann Saphir and Ryan Vlastelica; Writing by Rick Rothacker; Editing by David Gaffen, Paritosh Bansal, Lisa Von Ahn and Jan Paschal)