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East Coast earthquake causes financial markets to tremble

August 23, 2011 | 11:57 am

Morgan Stanley logo at New York headquarters An East Coast earthquake shook buildings all over New York City and traders reacted as they always do in times of uncertainty. They sold.

In the minutes after the earthquake, at around 1:50 p.m. New York time, the market charts reflected the seismographic charts, with the Dow Jones industrial average dropping a quick 50 points.

Anthony Conroy was sitting at his desk in midtown Manhattan when his computer screen started shaking.

PHOTOS: East Coast earthquake

"Everybody just got very nervous -- that sort of thing doesn’t happen in New York," said Conroy, the head equity trader at BNY ConvergEx. "That nervouseness causes volatility until people figured out exactly what it was."

A number of buildings around New York evacuated after the tremors, but the big exchanges and banks waited it out, and trading has continued normally.

Indeed, markets began to head up within a few minutes of the shaking after news reports made it clear that it was caused by an earthquake with an epicenter in Virginia and a magnitude of about 5.9.

The Dow was recently trading above where it was when the earthquake hit, up for the day 227.47 points, or 2.1% at 11091.93.


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File photo: Morgan Stanley's New York headquarters. The city was jittery Tuesday after a 5.9 earthquake. Credit: Peter Foley / Bloomberg