Hurricane Sandy Closed Markets, Postponed Earnings

As Hurricane Sandy marches up the East Coast, wrecking havoc on states from Florida to Maine, for the first time since the September 2001 terrorist attacks all major U.S. stock, option and commodity markets were closed on Monday, with the closure possibly extending into Tuesday.

While there had been plans for electronic trading to proceed on the New York Stock Exchange, with the ordered transit shutdown in and out of Manhattan, officials deemed the risks too great.

The last time the Big Board close due to weather was in 1985 for Hurricane Gloria. If the exchange remains closed into Tuesday, it will mark the first consecutive day closing since 1888, when a blizzard dumped mountains of snow on the New York area leaving drifts some 40 feet high in its wake.

With Sandy expected to make landfall somewhere on the Jersey Shore Monday afternoon, the devastating effects from the monster storm are expected to hit New York City hard. Lower parts of Manhattan around the Financial District are subject to mandatory evacuation orders, facing 70 mph winds and 11-foot storm surges.

Hurricane Sandy: Closures, Delays and Postponements

The Nasdaq also closed Monday.

CME Group will suspend trading of equity index futures and equity index options. It will shut down trading in interest-rate futures and options at noon EST on Monday, a spokeswoman said, in line with the closing time of the underlying cash markets.

CBOE Holdings Inc. said trading would be closed Monday for the Chicago Board Options Exchange, CBOE Futures Exchange, C2 Options Exchange and CBOE Stock Exchange.

A number of major U.S. companies postponed quarterly earnings as financial markets were forced to shutter. Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and NRG Energy Inc. (NYSE: NRG), which were set to report Tuesday, delayed earnings releases.

The U.S. government issued data on personal income and spending for September on Monday even though the government has shut down to brace for Hurricane Sandy. The Federal Reserve, however, will postpone its regularly scheduled data.

And with power expected to be out for up to 10 days in some areas, contingency plans are being prepared for voting in affected areas.

This Week's Economic Data Pre-Hurricane Sandy

Consumer spending rose solidly in September as households stepped up purchases on automobiles and a range of other goods, setting up a firmer base for consumption this quarter.
The Commerce Department said on Monday consumer spending increased 0.8% after an unrevised 0.5% gain in August.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected spending, which accounts for about 70% of U.S. economic activity to increase 0.6% in September.

Markets are coming off a scary week in the Dow dropped 1.8%, the S&P skidded 1.5% and the Nasdaq dropped 0.6%.

Halloween on Wednesday is not the only thing that has investors scared this week. The all important October jobs report will be released Friday and will weigh heavily on voters' minds. It is forecast to show payrolls rose by 124,000 in October, barely more than September's 114,000 gain, according to 78 economists polled by Reuters. The unemployment rate probably edged back up to 7.9% after falling to 7.8% from 8.1% last month.

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