In its 227-year history, the New York Stock Exchange has unexpectedly closed only a handful of times. The reasons range from the start of WWI, a nearby bomb killing dozens, the historic Black Thursday, the Sept. 11 attacks, the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and even once for a music video filming causing a ruckus.
But in light of the recent deadly coronavirus outbreak, NYSE President Stacey Cunningham told Jack Otter during FOX Business' "Barron's Roundtable" the floor is prepared to close in the event the virus threatens the safety of the traders.
"One of the things that we have to focus on is being prepared for any condition," Cunningham noted. "And so, we have scenarios that we're ready to roll out and implement at any point in time."
Cunningham said every quarter, NYSE tests for this sort of scenario, making sure its participants are "able to interact remotely if needed."
In the past, NYSE has been criticized for its poor response to disasters, especially following Hurricane Sandy, when U.S. equity markets were closed for two days. The stock exchange was unable to open even as other exchanges including BATS Global Markets and Nasdaq were fully operational.
But the NYSE, unlike its competitors, is a market that mixes computerized trading with human floor traders and market makers.
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Meanwhile, at the Nasdaq, officials are discussing how to run its fully electronic market if support staff can’t make it to the office.
In a statement, a Nasdaq spokesman said: "The health and safety of employees and clients is paramount to Nasdaq. We are in contact with industry stakeholders and following guidance from the WHO and CDC. We are focused on ensuring markets continue to operate normally and will update our communications and processes accordingly and as necessary.”
Other top firms, including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., are also enacting precautions by following the guidelines recommended by the World Health Organization. Goldman Sachs said in a statement, that the company is: “Monitoring the recommendations of international and national health organizations and will continue to follow their guidance.”
JPMorgan, the world’s largest bank, sent a letter to its 250,000 employees Thursday night. The letter said it was restricting employee international travel to essential trips only and it asked employees who’d been to regions where the disease was rampant to self-quarantine for 14 days. JPMorgan also asked employees to test remote access capabilities should they need to work from home.
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Another big bank, Credit Suisse, told FOX Business that it has already "implemented additional health and safety measures in our offices that are consistent with the guidance and recommendations from both the national and international health authorities, as well as regulatory authorities."
Fox Business' Lydia Moynihan and Charlie Gasparino contributed to this report.