Hurricane blows into stock market history

Sandy prompts the first unplanned multiday trading shutdown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

By Jason Notte Oct 29, 2012 2:41PM

 Wall Street sign copyright Comstock Images, age fotostockWhen the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq announce they're closing and don't know when they'll open again, that's when you know Hurricane Sandy has made it in New York.

Both markets were closed Monday in anticipation of the storm and will be closed Tuesday, as well, according to Reuters

The bond markets have already closed early, leaving only the folks in commodities to weather the storm. That puts Sandy in some pretty rare company when it comes to market-shuttering mayhem.

While the New York Stock Exchange has kept impromptu closures to a minimum since Aug. 8, 1885 -- when it honored President Ulysses S. Grant's funeral with its first special closure -- they're not a completely abnormal occurrence. 

The last event that resulted in an unplanned multiple-day shutdown was the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, which closed the market from Sept. 11 until Sept. 14. Weather, however, hasn't halted trading since Feb. 11, 1994, when a snowstorm closed the market at 2:30 p.m. Storms haven't closed the market completely since Hurricane Gloria blew into town on Sept. 27, 1985, and haven't kept it shut for any length of time since the Blizzard of 1888 erased two days of trading.

That's remarkable hardiness, considering the market of the supposedly tough, gritty New York of the late '60s and early '70s either closed early or delayed opening because of weather-related issues 10 times. Markets closed for a full day only once in that stretch -- when heavy snow kept traders away on Feb. 10, 1969 -- but were scared into a 3 p.m. closure on Aug. 9, 1976, just for a hurricane watch.

Before you jump all over those New Yorkers for shutting financial institutions in the face of stiff wind and flurries, keep in mind that the market's history is riddled with far more frivolous closures. Back in 1889, it closed for three days to celebrate the 100th anniversary of George Washington's inauguration. It took a whopping four days off in 1892 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' voyage. It's also closed or delayed openings at various points for a two-day parade for Admiral George Dewey after the Spanish-American war (1899), the coronation of the King of England (1902), an eclipse of the sun (1925), a parade for transatlantic flyer Charles Lindbergh (1927), a parade for General Douglas MacArthur (1951) and the first moon landing (1969).

The market has since tightened its closure policy and restricts full-day observances to the deaths of former presidents, while allowing occasional emergency closures for weather, computer glitches, utility outages and other unforseeable circumstances. Multi-day market closures are now almost unheard of. Before Sept. 11, the last time the market closed several days in a row was during the two-day V-J Day celebration marking the end of World War II in 1945.

As a market-stopping event, however, Sandy would be small potatoes even if it wiped out trading into Wednesday. Even under the most dire circumstance, Sandy's market impact couldn't come close to matching that of World War I. The hostilities in Europe closed the markets from July 31 through Nov. 27 in 1914 and restricted share prices until spring 1915. The markets subsequently closed for two days to let folks register for the draft, three days to turn off the heat and conserve fuel for the war effort, and another three days to celebrate the war's end and the return of American troops.

Call Sandy a perfect storm or Frankenstorm, but unless it's The Storm to End All Storms, the markets will move on.

More from Top Stocks

Oct 29, 2012 5:19PM
I'm glad to hear they will be closed for another day.  What Congress can't do or won't do, God will do! Thank you, God!  I do not wish any harm to anyone but I wouldn't care if the stock market closed for a decade or two.  Now, if Congress would close too. Government is so pisspoor now, I think it would be a blessing if the whole thing shut down! Congress gives themselves 174K plus 82K benefits for a part time job and don't work when they are there.  Goats would serve us better!  Please VOTE ALL INCUMBENTS OUT OF OFFICE.
Oct 29, 2012 5:27PM
This is-----if the states kept their tax money that they send to DC to pay for FEMA, they could run their own emergency response efforts.

No reason it has to be done by the feds.  The Feds are notoriously wasteful and government employees simply don't care about wasting your money, as has been made painfully clear to us, lo these many years.

Oct 29, 2012 6:26PM
How can the market manipulators make money if there's no market to manipulate? Whom will they sue to recover their lost profits?
Oct 29, 2012 7:21PM

Mother Nature may not be to happy with the stock exchange lately or rather how man has become so focused on materail things then the plans of GOD.

Oct 29, 2012 7:05PM
It is about time that FRAUD STREET learns some humility !
Oct 29, 2012 5:36PM
Seems to me that where all those wall street bottom feeders belong. Maybe they could all be washed out to sea.
Oct 30, 2012 12:43PM
To everyone bashing government and presidential candidates, this is not political! This is talking  about  the stock market! Its closed because of the Hurricane! It has nothing to do with the election!
Oct 29, 2012 7:28PM
lady T 2012

Wish I could give you 100 thumbs down on that statement about GOD>.....The Christian Taliban is one of the biggest problems facing this country...
Oct 29, 2012 5:37PM

Well, we won`t have to hear Romney`s lies for a few days.He`ll want a recount when he

loses Nov. 6th, but it`s all over but the crying for Mitt.He can go worship the ill-got

money he made by ruining businesses and helping China.

Oct 29, 2012 5:46PM

I`ve followed every election since 1960 and Romney is by far the biggest liar

ever to run.Nov. 6th will be the end of his watermellon smile.

Oct 29, 2012 4:41PM
Another difference in this election is that the Romney/Ryan Budget decimates FEMA and disaster Funding for STATES.....MItt Romney just recently said,  LETS THE STATES HANDLE THEIR OWN DISASTERS........This is the same guy that wants to ADD TWO TRILLION DOLLARS TO DEFENSE SPENDING, spending that WAS NOT ASKED for by the  PENTAGON........Remember​r the Tornado damage this year in the MId West, Joplin Mo, Eric Cantor and  the Republicans voted against giving relief .....Eric Cantor did this to his Own district and will probably cost him his Job when he comes up for re-election....I remember RED states that did not get the help they wanted this year because the GOP congress cut funding.....and blamed it on President Obama......They want it when it affects them though.......It happened here in Oklahoma.....I thought it was kind of funny...Our republican Governor beggied the Federal Government for disaster Funds, the same women who TOUTS small government and slams President Obama every chance she gets.....President Obama came to Oklahoma and she didn't show up to greet him......After that the State needed Federal disaster Funds and were turned down, due to lack of funds....

This is what the Federal Government should do, and can do,  is to help communities when the State government cannot.afford to....or don't have the resources........ Mitt Romney and the Republican party SAY, YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN..........

What is ironic is the RED States are states that can Least Afford to pay for Natural Disasters......If the republicans have their way, YOU WOULD BE ON YOUR OWN..... 
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