The Trump administration has no plans to close U.S. financial markets as a result of the volatility caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
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While plunges on the benchmark S&P 500 from a February peak through Monday afternoon wiped out $8.28 trillion of investor wealth, according to Dow Jones Market Data, the period also included sharp rallies. The VIX, or volatility index -- also known as the stock market’s fear gauge -- spiked to its highest level on record.
“We absolutely believe in keeping the markets open,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at a press briefing on Tuesday.
Mnuchin added that markets were shut following the 9/11 terrorist attacks because of disruption to the underlying technology when New York's World Trade Center was destroyed.
He said that market hours could be shortened, if necessary, but gave no indication that such plans were underway.
Mnuchin’s comments echo a similar sentiment from New York Stock Exchange President Stacey Cunningham. She told FOX Business’ Stuart Varney on Monday that closing the markets “would be the wrong response because it’s important that investors have access to their money, and it’s certainly not a long-term view.”
Cunningham added that single stocks are “trading and operating as designed,” but that they are seeing “less liquidity in fixed income and Treasurys.”
As for the New York Stock Exchange, Cunningham says the plan is to keep the trading floor open, but that the exchange can go fully electronic, if need be.
The NYSE has “taken a number of precautions to limit the risk on the trading floor,” including taking the temperatures of everyone who enters the building and screening for symptoms, according to Cunningham.
Both the CME Group and Cboe Global Markets have temporarily closed their trading pits in Chicago in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Both exchanges continue to trade electronically.