Stock markets resume trading today

Amid uncertainties, N.Y. Stock Exchange, Nasdaq will answer bell

Terrorism Strikes America

The Nation

September 17, 2001|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

NEW YORK -- The New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq stock market plan to reopen today -- ending the longest interruption of U.S. trading since before World War II.

Across the nation many companies and individuals were encouraging their peers to be ready to buy stock today to prevent a sharp sell-off that would reduce share prices.

The reopening of the Wall Street trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange is expected to provide a big psychological boost in the city and far beyond.

In addition to getting a critical piece of the country's financial system back on its feet, restarting the markets will be an important symbol of the nation's recovery from last week's terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon, market and government officials said.

Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill and other top officials will be at the stock exchange for the start of trading. A group of New York police officers, firefighters and other emergency workers will ring the opening bell at 9:30 a.m.

The resumption of stock trading will "send a very important message to the criminals who so heinously attacked this country -- that they lost," Chairman Richard A. Grasso said Saturday at a news conference at the exchange. "The American way of life goes on."

The New York Stock Exchange, located a few blocks from the collapsed World Trade Center, was not damaged in the attack. But communications links between the stock exchange and member brokerage firms sustained heavy damage. Verizon Communications has been working around the clock to replace damaged phone lines in lower Manhattan.

The New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq said tests Saturday showed that communications were well enough restored to allow trading to resume.

The smaller American Stock Exchange, close to the World Trade Center site and still lacking power and water, will not be able to open its trading floor today but will resume operations with the help of rivals. American Stock Exchange shares will trade on the NYSE.

Questions remain as to how the first day of trading will go -- in terms of logistical problems in getting tens of thousands of people to work in lower Manhattan and in terms of the direction of the market.

Though subway service in the Wall Street area has been restored, many people filing back for their first day of work since the attack could experience delays.

The four-day suspension of stock trading has been the longest since at least 1933, when markets were closed in tandem with a federally ordered bank holiday during the Depression.

Today will be the first opportunity for most U.S. investors to react to Tuesday's attacks. Fears about investor reaction have been compounded by the weak market in recent months. Stock prices fell sharply last month and early this month, as worries grew about the struggling economy and decimated corporate profits.

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