NEW YORK — Wall Street firms prepared to open for business on Monday by staffing as little as possible, booking hotel rooms for key employees, and leaning on offices in other cities. They prepared this way because Hurricane Sandy forced the New York mass transit system to shut down, leaving tens of thousands of commuting employees stuck at home.
According to NBC News, executives, traders and bankers said that they were expecting a light trading day on Monday — and depending on the impact of the storm, possibly through Tuesday — as some offices in lower Manhattan’s Financial District are in an evacuation zone and most non-critical staff members were asked to work from home.
Major U.S. stock exchanges, including New York Stock Exchange Euronext , Nasdaq OMX Group and Direct Edge, as well as banks such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc , Citigroup Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co were all putting together contingency plans to open for business on Monday. However, in order to so, some firms had to scale back their operations.
On Sunday after noon, NYSE said that it will close its physical trading floor operations for the first time in nearly three decades due to a weather-related emergency. Instead of their traditional trading floor operations, the NYSE will move trading of NYSE-listed stocks to its fully electronic exchange. This is the first time NYSE has ever gone fully electronic.
Larry Leibowitz, NYSE’s chief operating officer said that the NYSE will evaluate on “a day-to-day basis” as to when it will reopen their floor. It may take awhile for them to reopen, because if forecasts are correct, the weather may get worse on Tuesday.
The decision to close the trading floor came after a series of discussions with floor brokers, employees, city officials and others.
Leibowitz — who lives in lower Manhattan, but not in the evacuation zone — said that he would be showing up for work on Monday.
“I will be there … I will probably be singing a solo on the trading floor,” he said.
Hurricane Sandy is expected to hit the U.S. East Coast on Monday night. The storm will bring torrential rains, high winds, severe flooding and power outages. The rare “super storm” could be the biggest to hit the U.S. mainland, forecasters have said.