November 1, 2012

8 Events That Closed or Shook the NYSE

Sometimes the events shut the market, other times trading continued in the face of tragedy

Hurricane Sandy flooded Lower Manhattan and closed the NYSE for two days—a feat not even the crash of 1929 matched. (Photo: AP) Hurricane Sandy flooded Lower Manhattan and closed the NYSE for two days—a feat not even the crash of 1929 matched. (Photo: AP)

The New York Stock Exchange doesn’t close often, but when it does it’s noteworthy. Storm Sandy's wrath upon New York left the exchange closed Monday and Tuesday—the first weather-related closing longer than a day since 1888.

Blizzards, heat, a world war and funerals for various dignitaries from Queen Victoria to former vice presidents have all left the exchange dark. The first such instance was following the death of former President Ulysses S. Grant.

And then there were the terrorist attacks, in 1920 and 2001, that suspended trading. But despite the closings over the years, the exchange has more often continued on in the face of tragedy and mourning.

Here are 8 Events That Closed or Shook the NYSE:

A World War I recruitment poster.1914: World War I

The New York Stock Exchange closed on July 31, 1914, three days after the War in Europe started. With foreign investors selling their holdings like crazy to finance the war, all world markets closed to prevent a massive sell-off. The NYSE did not fully reopen until December. Trading in bonds to finance the war did begin in November to help the warring nations prevent financial ruin. The markets did not recover until after the new year in 1915.

1920: Anarchist Bomb

A bomb placed in a horse-drawn wagon in the heart of New York’s financial district by anarchists exploded at noon on Sept. 16, 1920. Forty people were killed and 300 were injured. Trading was suspended for the rest of the day. When it resumed the next day the market rose 1.5%. The pockmarks from shrapnel can still be seen on Wall Street buildings.

1929: Black Monday

The stock exchange did all of its trading by hand in those days, and the volume of investors selling kept workers busy well into the night. Although panic was spreading, it was decided not to suspend trading amid fears it would further erode confidence.

American ships burned during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. (Photo: AP)1941: Pearl Harbor Attacked

The surprise attack by the Japanese navy occurred on Sunday. Markets opened as usual the next day and fell more than 7% over two days of trading. The lower prices didn’t last long. After the spring of 1942, stocks started back up. An investment in blue chip stocks would have netted an annual return of 25% through the end of 1945.

1963: JFK Assassinated

Investors were no doubt somber on Nov. 22, 1963, when the news from Dallas reached the trading floor. Shares fell 2.9%. But the drop was reversed the next trading day when the New York Stock Exchange rose 4.5%. Over the next year, the market gained 25%.

(Photo: AP)1985: Hurricane Gloria

Hurricanes don’t often threaten New York City, but when they do the stock markets take notice. On Sept. 27, 1985, the New York Stock Exchange shut down as Gloria roared through. The day off had no lasting impact on stock prices.

1993: First World Trade Center Bombing

The first bomb set off at the World Trade Center on Feb. 26, 1993, which killed six and injured more than a thousand, didn’t halt trading, but it did send the market down about a half a percentage point. Stocks continued down, ending about 13% off over the next year.

The World Trade Center towers after being struck on Sept. 11, 2001. (Photo: AP)2001: Terrorist Attacks

The Sept. 11 attacks caused the NYSE to close for four days. When trading resumed on Sept. 17, the Dow fell 14%. But investors rebounded, and within a few weeks all the lost ground was made up.

 

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