NYSE Plans to Partially Reopen by End of May

By:
Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
May 15, 2020
The New York Stock Exchange announced that it would be reopening its floors to a limited degree after Memorial Day, said CNN Business.

Everyone on the trading floor will be required to wear protective masks as they work, and follow strict social-distancing requirements that will define spaces where each person may work. Everyone who comes into the building must avoid getting there via public transportation, and everyone's temperatures will be checked before entry. Further, most of the place will remain empty, as it will not resume its regular events schedule.

The Wall Street Journal said that those returning will largely be floor brokers who buy and sell stocks on behalf of large investors; many of them work for small, independent firms with fewer than 20 employees, and they make no income outside of what they earn on the floor. The Journal said it has largely been these brokers who have pushed for the facility to reopen.

The New York Stock Exchange, just across the street from the NYSSCPA's own Wall Street office, closed in March, after two traders tested positive for COVID-19. MarketWatch said that, prior to this action, the NYSE had vigorously resisted calls to close trading floors despite sharp criticisms from rivals such as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, which had already done so. The exchange apparently has a reputation for remaining open even in disasters, as its floor did not shut down even during the Spanish flu pandemic over a century ago. Another factor, according to Bloomberg, was the macho culture that infuses much of the financial services industry. While public statements from CEOs have urged people to protect themselves and their families, traders said these sentiments at the time weren't 100 percent earnest: Industry norms frequently have people coming into work while sick, as there is pressure to be a "tough guy" and make money even in the worst of times. Bloomberg reported, for example, that JPMorgan managers at that time had been telling workers to come in even while executives were saying to stay home.

Markets themselves seemed to have little reaction to this news. As of 11:41 a.m. the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down by about 200 points, the Nasdaq was down by 83 points, and the S&P 500 was down 26 points.

Bloomberg said ​​that traders are largely reacting to recent trade tensions between the United States and China, particularly on word that the United States is trying to restrict Huawei Technology's chip supply, as well as mounting costs of COVID-19 treatment measures. CNBC noted, however, that markets had been worse earlier in the morning but had improved on the strength of, oddly enough, retail stocks, including Office Depot, Best Buy, Kohl's, Nordstrom, Home Depot and Walmart, all of which were trading higher, leading one to wonder whether they had read reports that retail sales were down more than 16 percent in April

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