Hurricane Irene: Wall Street planning to open Monday
On Sunday, the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq OMX Group issued statements saying they planned to be open Monday, but officials and Wall Street analysts warned that it was not clear how much trading activity there would be.
New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said he was lifting the city’s evacuation order as of Sunday afternoon, but the subway and commuter rail systems remained closed and it was unclear when they would reopen.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had shut the subway as a precaution before the arrival of the storm, which caused some flooding in Manhattan streets, including in the Wall Street district.
“It’s safe to say it’s going to be a tough commute tomorrow,” the mayor told reporters Sunday.
The last time weather shut U.S. equities markets for an entire day was Sept. 27, 1985, as a result of Hurricane Gloria. A heavy snowstorm on Jan. 8, 1996, caused the New York Stock Exchange to open late and close early.
John Nester, spokesman for the Securities and Exchange Commission, said Sunday that the exchanges had informed the SEC that they would open for regular hours. “The decision to open was made in consultation with the SEC following a series of discussions throughout the weekend,” Nester said in a statement.
Overall, the economic toll from Irene is anticipated to be far less severe than had been feared. Kinetic Analysis Corp., a consulting firm, estimated that insured damage from Irene will run from $2 billion to $3 billion, with total losses of about $7 billion.
Certain sectors may feel that economic bite more acutely than others. Atlantic City, which had been banking on this weekend to be one of the year’s best turnouts by gamblers, shut down its casinos before the hurricane’s arrival. Though the gambling halls are expected to reopen Monday, Bob Griffin, president of the Casino Association of New Jersey, told reporters that it’s still uncertain how much the three-day shutdown will have cost the industry.
Irene also put a significant dent in this week’s box office revenue.
About 1,000 movie theaters from Philadelphia to New York had shut down over the weekend because of the storm. Studio distribution executives blamed these closures, as well as people staying home because of the storm, for a decline of nearly 25% in movie ticket sales over the weekend compared with the same period a year ago.
New York City’s theater industry also was buffeted by the storm. Citing safety and security concerns, the Broadway League shut down all Broadway shows on Saturday and Sunday. While the shows would normally be closed on Monday, some theater watchers expected performances to resume Tuesday.
-- Richard Verrier
PHOTO: In Irene's wake, tourists return to Lower Manhattan and Wall Street. CREDIT: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)