NYSE Closes Trading Floor After Two Positive Tests for COVID-19

With no set date for reopening its human platform, NYSE’s electronic systems may face sharp volatility due to higher volumes.

With financial institutions across the United States taking steps to contain the coronavirus spread, the New York Stock Exchange is closing its iconic trading floor. While the ICE-owned exchange would shut down its physical trading floor, it plans to open for business on Monday as an electronic-only trading venue.

The closing will take effect Friday at the close of business, NYSE said in a statement, noting that it affects trading floors at the NYSE equities, NYSE American Options in New York, and NYSE Arca Options in San Francisco.

This would make NYSE the third major U.S. exchange to close a trading floor due to concerns over the coronavirus. Both the futures-exchange giant CME Group and Nasdaq, which trades technology stocks, have closed their trading floors and switched to backup electronic trading systems. As such, next week would mark the first unscheduled market-wide shutdown since September 2001.

“NYSE’s trading floors provide unique value to issuers and investors, but our markets are fully capable of operating in an all-electronic fashion to serve all participants, and we will proceed in that manner until we can re-open our trading floors to our members,” said Stacey Cunningham, president of the New York Stock Exchange.

NYSE officials cautioned last week that they were taking steps to avoid having to make such a decision, but they had to switch to electronic trading after a trader and an NYSE worker tested positive for the coronavirus.

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Investors already reeling from trading halts

As it resisted shutting its floor, fears over the coronavirus pandemic prompted the New York Stock Exchange to take measures, including restrictions on outside visitors that typically tour the floor. That also includes executives and other VIPs who come to ring the opening or closing bell.

NYSE rarely shuts down for emergencies, with the Hurricane Sandy in 2012 was the last major event to bring the exchange to a halt.

NYSE’s announcement also comes after several companies advised employees to work from home as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps through the state

With no set date for reopening its human platform, NYSE’s electronic systems may face sharp volatility due to higher volumes, a prospect that worry investors already reeling from a series of trading halts this month.

“While we are taking the precautionary step of closing the trading floors, we continue to firmly believe the markets should remain open and accessible to investors. All NYSE markets will continue to operate under normal trading hours despite the closure of the trading floors,” added Cunningham.

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