NEW YORK (Reuters) — An army of cleaners brandishing brooms and hoses scrambled to scrub down Wall Street Sunday, as U.S. stock markets prepare to reopen the next morning after a four-day shutdown forced by devastating air attacks that tore through the financial district.
“All the testing is completed and everything is a go,” a spokesperson for the world’s largest stock exchange, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), told Reuters by telephone from the imposing NYSE building in lower Manhattan, three blocks southeast from the rubble that used to be the World Trade Center. “Everything was completed yesterday.”
Investors are bracing for a rocky start. The outlook for stock prices, at least in the short term, is grim, analysts say. The attacks on New York’s financial district and the Pentagon building outside Washington, D.C., have intensified fears that a sluggish U.S. economy will slip into a recession. Despite the prospect of a sharp decline in share prices on Monday morning, officials have been determined to reopen the stock markets on Monday, in part because of the symbolism of a speedy return to normalcy.
The task has been formidable. U.S. financial markets have been paralyzed since Tuesday after two hijacked planes toppled the World Trade Center’s twin 110-story towers, leaving an enormous pile of twisted steel and glass and some 5,000 people feared dead. It has been the longest shutdown since March 1933, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt ordered a special banking holiday to prevent bank runs in the Great Depression.
Delis and other eateries slowly were opening up Sunday afternoon. Wall Street’s tenants already were taking a peek at their operations and preparing for Monday.
“People are staying in hotels and sleeping in the building; we’re just trying to get our building back on line in time for Monday and take it from there, I guess,” a local businessman said. “We’re working ’round the clock — everyone’s doing all they can.”
The two other main U.S. exchanges, the American Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq, also will reopen after successful weekend tests. No. 2 U.S. exchange Nasdaq’s systems are up and running, a spokesman told Reuters Sunday. The most critical tests checked on the market’s connectivity via telephone lines to Wall Street’s scattered brokerage firms.
The American Stock Exchange will resume stock trading on the NYSE and options trading on the Philadelphia Stock Exchange. The Amex said its building, which is located just a block south of where the World Trade Center stood, suffered no structural damage. But the exchange decided against trading on its own premises due to “significant utility, access and safety issues and the need to complete building maintenance.”