NYSE computers, communications systems working, trading to resume Monday morning

Saturday, September 15th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ The nation's big stock markets completed a successful test of their computer and communications systems Saturday, clearing the way for trading to resume Monday.

``Based on today's evaluation of our systems ... at 9:30 Monday morning trading will resume,'' New York Stock Exchange Chairman Richard A. Grasso said.

Telephone and utility workers continued reconnecting services Saturday, but ``our systems are all go,'' Grasso said.

The Nasdaq Stock Market also issued a statement saying it had conducted a successful test of its systems and was ready to trade.

The NYSE, Nasdaq and American Stock Exchange have been closed since Tuesday, when terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center's twin towers and forced the shutdown of the city's financial district. All three markets plan to reopen on Monday.

The NYSE chairman said the exchange would observe two minutes of silence before the start of trading to honor the thousands of people believed killed in the trade center attack and assault on the Pentagon. He said those on the exchange floor would also join in singing ``God Bless America.''

The opening bell, traditionally rung by corporate executives or political leaders, will be sounded by representatives from the agencies heading rescue efforts at the trade center: the police and fire departments, emergency medical services and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

With trading set to resume, a remaining question is how the market, already fragile due to the weakened economy, will react to the terrorist attacks. Grasso joined some market analysts in predicting that trading will be orderly, and that investors will be restrained, not panicky.

``I would suggest that investors have had this time frame to step back and take a reasoned approach, a thoughtful approach, to their investments,'' he said.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, in a move designed to support the market, on Friday eased rules governing stock buybacks by companies. Many companies are expected to repurchase their stock _ networking provider Cisco Systems has already announced plans to do so _ as a signal of their confidence in the market and the country.

The NYSE, located about five blocks from the trade center, was not damaged in the attack. But a telephone switching operation was knocked out, severing some of the communications systems used in trading. And a number of investment firms suffered damage that forced them to relocate some of their operations.

The American Stock Exchange, which was located closer to the World Trade Center site than the NYSE, sustained enough damage that its trading floor is not usable. Its operations are expected to be temporarily relocated to the NYSE and other regional markets, said Amex spokesman Bob Rendine.

Grasso said most investment firms are now able to link with the exchange, and that by Monday, there should be ``some connectivity to everyone who does business.''

``I'm very confident that even those who sustained significant losses will be in some part back in business Monday morning,'' he said.

According to Grasso, the investment firms said Wednesday they could resume trading, but ``it was far more important from a human standpoint to make sure that nothing we did as a business interrupted the brave men and women'' trying to rescue victims of the attack.

About $100 billion worth of trades are conducted every day in the United States, bringing the estimated losses from the shutdown to $400 billion, according to the Securities Industry Association. Investment firms suffered many millions of dollars more in damage.