Following a two-day shutdown in equity trading, U.S. stock markets reopened mostly without incident on Wednesday, even as the rest of New York’s financial district felt its way through the aftermath of a massive once-in-a-century hurricane that ravaged the city’s commercial and transportation infrastructure.
“The opening went peacefully enough, and peaceful is good,” UBS Director of Floor Operations Art Cashin said on CNBC from the New York Stock Exchange trading pits, which were operating on generator power.
Cashin, who noted firms on the exchange were dealing with telephone connectivity issues and staffed with “skeleton crews,” said the most worrying issue at the moment was the “ad hoc” nature with which market participants were dealing with planning for contingencies.
Various market participants noted trading volume appeared light, in spite of the fact many traders tend to go into a portfolio rearrangement frenzy on the last day of every month.
“It would be busier if we had two people dancing instead of just one,” Cashin noted.
Cashin wasn’t the only one worried about potential volatility of restarted stock trading.
New York Stock Exchange operator NYSE Euronext (NYSE:NYX) invoked Rule 48, which allows a NYSE official to suspend trading if volatility gets out of hand, as a precaution prior to the opening bell.
The exchange was not forced to use those extraordinary powers Wednesday morning, something that allowed New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg to preen about how New York was “getting back to work” during an impromptu press conference on the western entrance of the exchange.
Sporting a business suit and a wide smile for the first time in four days, the mayor rang the opening bell Wednesday morning before heading north on Broadway, which has been in the dark ever since power supplier Consolidated Edison preemptively shut down various substations on Monday night.
In mid-morning trading, the S&P 500 Index of U.S. equities was slightly up, notching a gain of 3.94 points to trade near 1415.88, up 0.28 percent from Friday’s close.