Wall Street battens down the hatches for Frankenstorm

 
Kasmira Jefford
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US STOCK exchanges shut down their trading floors today and Wall Street firms prepared staff to work from home or regional offices as New York braced itself for the arrival of hurricane Sandy.

The New York Stock Exchange said yesterday it would close its trading floor for weather-related reasons for the first time since hurricane Gloria swept through the city 27 years ago. All operations are instead being conducted through NYSE Arca, its electronic exchange, parent company NYSE Euronext said.

CME Group, the futures exchange operator, also said its New York commodity trading floor would be closed after a mandatory evacuation issued by the New York City government.

The hurricane, nicknamed Frankenstorm, is expected to strike the East Coast today, bringing torrential rains, gale-force winds, severe flooding and power cuts.

Several states have declared an emergency, including New York, where 375,000 people have been ordered to evacuate low-lying areas, while schools are closed and transport systems suspended. Website FlightAware.com said 2,499 flights to and from the US today have been cancelled as a result of the looming storm.

Wall Street firms including Goldman Sachs and Citigroup have made emergency plans.

Goldman said only staff “deemed critical to operations” would work from its Manhattan headquarters while some employees will work from offices in Connecticut and Greenwich.

Certain activities have also been shifted to Goldman’s London office and other locations around the world.