With the U.S. team playing in the World Cup tournament, Wall Street traders are taking advantage of mediocre volume to focus on the games, with trading floor atmosphere anything but dull.
U.S. equity markets and indexes have churned excruciatingly around the break-even mark, with the S&P 500 index struggling to move in either direction for the last three days. After stronger volume in late April and May, trading activity this week has tapered off significantly.
But that hasn't lowered the level of excitement in trading rooms.
A lot of people are following the game and rooting hard, said Gordon Charlop, managing director at Rosenblatt Securities from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Traders around him roared as the USA neared Slovenia's goal in their nail-biting 2-2 tie on Friday.
Peter Kenny, managing director at Knight Equity Markets in Jersey City, New Jersey said the World Cup has become a permanent fixture in the office.
These games are really getting everybody fixated, he said. We still have three other networks on but we now have football as one of the four options.
But some employers would prefer their traders focused on the stock market rather than the World Cup. We tried (to watch the games) once and the boss got angry so we're keeping tabs on it on the Internet, said one trader.
Still, signs are many traders are thinking about their bets on football just as much as their stock market bets.
We're part of a pool and I drew England in the pool and shorted everyone else, said Tom Schrader, managing director of U.S. equity trading at Stifel Nicolaus Capital Markets in Baltimore, who seemed confident with his draw.
Schrader quipped that a joke currently doing the rounds in his office is that America's new favorite color is green, a reference to England goal keeper Robert Green, who gifted the USA its 1-1 win in a howling error on Saturday.
Kevin Kruszenski, head of listed trading at KeyBanc Capital Markets in Cleveland, whose children are keen football fans, was more sympathetic.
Poor goalie, it looked like a fluke, he said. My son plays soccer and he plays goalie and that's a tough thing to watch. Sometimes things just get by you.
Kruszenski said the buzz around the World Cup is greater than he's ever seen it as the beautiful game conquers the world's last great holdout. Even the name football is gradually gaining traction here for the game commonly known as soccer, but it's unlikely to be confused with the popular American game of the same name.
I've seen some gambling sheets floating around here, guys making some bets, more so then I've ever seen, he said. Just about everybody I work with here (have) kids (who) play, whereas when I grew up nobody played, we all played baseball.
Kruszenski attributes the low volume to a seasonal lull and expects a flurry of activity in markets when corporate earnings season begins in early July. That may depend on how far team USA advances in the tournament.
(Reporting by Edward Krudy; Additional reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Dan Grebler)