* Equity markets executives, regulators agree to close on
* Focus shifts to Wednesday, which marks end of month
* Analyst estimates millions of dollars in lost revenue for
By John McCrank and Rick Rothacker
Oct 29 Hurricane Sandy will close U.S. stock
markets for a second day on Tuesday, as Wall Street turned its
attention to whether markets would be able to resume functioning
on the month's final trading day on Wednesday.
U.S. stock markets closed on Monday due to weather for the
first time in 27 years. Bond markets closed early, at noon, as
winds and waves from Hurricane Sandy lashed the Eastern
NYSE Euronext and Nasdaq OMX Group, the
largest two U.S. exchange operators, said they intend to reopen
Wednesday, conditions permitting. The bond markets will also
close on Tuesday, with traders aiming to reopen on Wednesday.
Wednesday is a key trading day because it marks the end of
the month, when traders price portfolios. With New York still to
feel the full impact of the storm Monday evening, fears remained
that wind damage and possible power outages could test the
ability of markets to reopen. New York's mass transit system,
which most employees use to get to work, also remained shut and
it was unclear when service would be restored.
Fierce winds and flooding were felt along hundreds of miles
of Atlantic coastline and heavy snows were forecast farther
inland at higher elevations as the center of the storm moved
ashore along the coast of southern New Jersey or Delaware on
Monday evening. [ID: nL1E8LT3SI]
The broad effects of the market shutdown were beginning to
become more apparent by late Monday, as analysts estimated banks
and trading firms could lose tens of millions of dollars in
Some companies postponed their quarterly earnings reports,
and banks closed branches in the Northeast, while promising to
waive certain fees in hurricane-threatened areas.
Disaster modeling company Eqecat said the storm is likely to
cause insured losses of $5 billion to $10 billion, and economic
losses of $10 billion to $20 billion.
The trading closure also threatened to delay IPOs of at
least six companies, while Facebook Inc employees were
prevented from selling shares in the social media company after
a "lock-up" on trading expired. [ID: nL1E8LTAXX]
"If you go two days, you really start to create some serious
financial stress for some players that need to get something
done," said Jim Paulsen, of Wells Capital.
As Hurricane Sandy began battering the U.S. East Coast on
Monday, many Wall Street employees stayed home. Major Wall
Street banks had planned to open with skeleton staffing, but
with the stock and options markets closed and the bond market
closing at noon, many people said they had little to do.
"There's nothing to do, so I'm just relaxing," said one New
York-based equities trader at a large global investment bank,
who spent most of the day in his pajamas, staying in touch with
his boss and clients via phone and email.
Steve Gerbel, who runs hedge fund Chicago Capital
Management, said that when he called a Goldman Sachs Group Inc
trading desk on Monday, he got to talk to employees from
its Salt Lake City office for the first time.
Since markets were closed, Gerbel said he would spend most
of the day dealing with paperwork that he typically put on the
back burner, and his employees would do the same, or clock out
"I predict my office will never be cleaner than it will be
today," he said.
The weather also canceled financial conferences, leaving
companies that had flown executives into New York over the
weekend scrambling to find ways to keep them busy. One firm
offered media interviews with portfolio managers stranded in the
city after a conference they were attending was canceled.
For operations and back-office staffers, it was a busy day,
as workers struggled to keep data centers and company systems up
LIKE HERDING CATS
Earlier on Monday, equities trading executives pressed the
stock exchanges to clearly communicate their plans to avoid a
repeat of Sunday night's uncertainty.
Market participants and regulators decided late at night on
Sunday to shut the stock and options markets, reversing a plan
to keep electronic trading going on Monday, leaving some people
complaining about confusion.
The biggest problem with the New York Stock Exchange's
initial plan to trade exclusively over its ARCA electronic
system was that the contingency plan that it had created in
March had not been vetted by many brokerage firms, sources
familiar with the situation said.
The decision to close the stock and options market came on
Sunday night after SIFMA, the Wall Street trade group, held a
conference call around 11 p.m. ET (0300 GMT) to debate whether
to close, said a brokerage executive, who requested anonymity
because he is not allowed to speak to the media.
"It was like trying to corral cats," the executive said.
NYSE spokesman Richard Adamonis declined comment on friction
with the brokerage community over the on-again, off-again
decision to open trading during the storm.
"Through the storm, SIFMA has and will continue to work with
a variety of market participants to ensure smooth market
function," spokeswoman Liz Pierce said in an email.
On Monday, the industry tried to avoid a repeat of the
confusion. A decision to close the markets on Tuesday had been
announced by early afternoon, after an industry-wide call that
included regulators, broker-dealers and executives.
BONDS AND IPO PRICINGS
On the conference call on Sunday evening hosted by SIFMA,
with big banks, exchanges and other industry representatives,
banks pushed for bond markets to open in New York on Monday, at
least temporarily, to help secure short-term funding needs for
themselves and their clients. The bond markets were open until
noon, on an abbreviated schedule.
Many cautious clients took care of funding needs through
Wednesday, according to a source at a large global investment
bank. If firms or their clients need to get trades done during
the rest of the week while markets are closed in New York, they
can trade out of bank offices in Asia or Europe, he said.
The stock market's closure means companies that were looking
to go public may have to wait. Six initial public offerings
scheduled to price later this week will likely have to be pushed
back, equity capital markets sources said. They said decisions
were being made now between underwriters and the issuers.
"We can't market some of these deals while no one is on the
other side of the phone," said one equity capital markets banker
at a large Wall Street bank. Some deals may be pushed back to
next week after the election, the source said.
Restoration Hardware, the highest profile of the public
offerings set to launch this week, is still on track to price
Thursday night, a source familiar with the matter said.
Radius Health, which was set to price its $61.8 million IPO
later this week, is in a "wait-and-see mode," said Chief
Financial Officer Nick Harvey. "We haven't made any decisions
yet," he added.
CME Group Inc, the exchange operator, said it would
reopen trading in stock-index and interest-rate futures and
options Monday evening.
CME will start up equity-index trading at 6 pm ET (2200
GMT), and close it back down at 9:15 ET (1315 GMT) Tuesday to
coordinate with the closure of U.S. stock markets. [ID: