By Mark DeCambre, MarketWatch
The New York Stock Exchange partly opened its floor trading on Tuesday, after a nearly two-month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, Wall Street appears to not to have missed a beat, and arguably is enjoying its best run of gains amid that temporary halt to floor trading on the New York Stock Exchange, operated by Intercontinental Exchange Inc. /zigman2/quotes/209108507/composite ICE -1.81% .
The closure of the NYSE was on the same day that the three main stock-market benchmarks touched their bear-market lows, usually defined as a decline by at least 20% from a recent peak. Since that nadir on March 23, however, the Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -1.39% and the S&P 500 index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -0.56% have surged by about 35%, while the Nasdaq Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +0.53% has rallied by more 37% over the period.
It is a point that was even noted by Jay Woods on Tuesday via twitter by Jay Woods, an NYSE designated market maker, or DMM, at IMC Financial Markets:
The NYSE announced that it would close its floor trading, staffed with flesh-and-blood traders, on March 18 effective on March 23. The company’s rival exchanges are almost entirely electronically traded and the NYSE has long had the capacity to operate on an all-electronic basis.
Closures at the iconic exchange came after a trader and an NYSE worker tested positive for the coronavirus,
Only about 80 brokers, or about 25% of the NYSE’s staff, were present on Tuesday. DMMs like, Woods, who is also a NYSE floor governor, won’t be returning until New York City’s lockdown measures are lifted, possibly sometime next month.
Reports indicate that returning brokers would need to adhere to social-distancing requirements, maintaining distances of at least 6 feet on the floor. Plexiglass partitions between work stations also are a feature of the reopening.
Brokers also need to sign a waiver that frees the NYSE against any legal liability for the return of staffers, the Wall Street Journal reported.
People on the floor also are required to wear facial coverings, and avoid taking public transportation, the paper wrote. Requirements to avoid using public transportation may be lifted once the city opens, likely some time in June, CNBC reported.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was on hand on Tuesday to usher in the opening bell for the NYSE, whose roots can be trade back to 1792, when what would come to be the NYSE was founded, and 1817, when the New York Stock Exchange Board was formed. The reopening of the so-called Big Board comes even as the official U.S. death toll from the coronavirus closed in on 100,000, a monumental mark that highlights the impact of the deadly contagion.
The NYSE has long argued that its brokers are essential to the healthy functioning of markets. That is particularly the case near the close of marketwide trading. Only NYSE floor traders can use so-called D-orders, or D-qotes, which can help to resolve imbalances during the final minutes of a trading day.