As Hurricane Sandy barrels down on the East Coast, Wall Street is shutting down.
The nation’s two biggest trading platforms -- the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq Stock Market -- have both closed for business. They said trading might not get back to normal until Wednesday.
This would be the first time trading has been halted in all U.S. stocks since a four-day stretch after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“Hurricane Sandy will make it extremely difficult to ensure the safety of our people and communities, and safety must be our first priority,” NYSE Chief Executive Duncan Niederauer said.
New Yorkers hunkered down amid threats of 70-mph winds and an 11-foot storm surge swiping over lower parts of the city. Although some effects were being felt across Manhattan late Sunday, the full extent may not be known for the next few days, when the storm is expected to make landfall.
The storm has triggered some of America’s biggest financial exchanges and banks to take emergency steps, including warning traders, bankers and other employees to stay home.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the world’s largest investment bank, told all but essential employees to work remotely. Outside its world headquarters in New York, on West Street near an evacuation zone, barricades were being installed to protect against potential surging waters.
Other companies followed suit.
Sandbags were going up in front of the Bank of America Corp. offices in the financial district, according to media reports. JPMorgan Chase & Co. closed down all its branches and offices in lower Manhattan.
American Express Co., the credit-card lender whose headquarters are at the World Financial Center, shut its offices in the tri-state area. Insurer American International Group Inc., with offices nearby, did the same.
Employees got emails such as this one from Citigroup Inc.: “All staff based in Citi facilities within mandatory evacuation zones must invoke their work-from-home strategies for Monday and Tuesday unless they are business critical,” said a memo obtained by The Times.
Major U.S. stock markets waffled about opening up for trading several times late Sunday.
The New York Stock Exchange at first said it would remain open, but only using electronic trading while closing the iconic market floor. Then the floor was closed. Then all trading was closed.
The Nasdaq, which is all electronic trading, agreed to suspend transactions. Smaller exchanges, including electronic platforms such as BATS and Direct Edge, also agreed to shut down trading.
Major institutional investors complained to regulators that markets should either be open or closed, forcing all of them to move in one direction, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly.
These investors were worried about big movements in the market during volatile electronic trading, the person said. Representatives from each market then agreed to close trading, the person said.