Sandy Shuts Down Markets For Two Days; Europe Drifts Lower On Earnings, Hurricane Fear

[Chart courtesy of]

US stock markets will be closed for the second straight trading day on Tuesday as Wall Street assesses the impact of Hurricane Sandy. Exchange officials chose to suspend operations for the first time in 27 years Monday on safety concerns as Sandy lumbered towards the East Coast, bringing potentially devastating winds and surging waters.

The major exchanges, including NASDAQ, OMX and NYSE Euronext, said they hoped to restart normal operations Wednesday but will provide additional updates tomorrow.

Healthcare firm Pfizer pushed back the release of its earning report to Thursday from Tuesday. The US consumer spending rose a seasonally adjusted 0.8 percent in September, a Commerce Department report showed.

Treasury bonds rose marginally Monday, pushing yields down on a light trading day before trading halted at noon Eastern. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury notes fell three basis points to 1.71 percent while 30-year Treasury bond yields slipped two basis points to 2.88 percent.

Meanwhile, the US dollar pushed higher in thin trading as markets waited for potentially devastating effects from the storm. The ICE dollar index, a gauge for the greenback’s worth against a basket of six currencies, rose to 80.236 from 80.046 late Friday.

European stocks traded lower Monday (see above chart) as risk-averse behavior cut down trading volume with the US bracing for a potentially catastrophic storm on the East Coast.

Insurers and energy stocks were hit the hardest while the pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 index fell 0.4 percent. Shares of UBS AG however jumped six percent after the Swiss banking major announced jobs cuts in a major restructuring move.

The German DAX 30 index slipped 0.4 percent after Allianz SE tumbled 0.9 percent.

The French CAC 40 index finished 0.4 percent lower after utility Veolia Environnement SA tumbled 4.8 percent oil major Total SA sunk 0.8 percent.

The FTSE 100 index lost 0.2 percent in London.

The Athens General Index sank 6.3 percent after National Bank of Greece plunged 17 percent as European officials met to discuss whether Athens can get its next bailout tranche to avoid bankruptcy.

German leaders have rejected another round of hair-cut on Greek debt that would lead to direct losses for European and German taxpayers, the WSJ reported. But German officials may grant Greek extension to meet its deficit targets and boost the economy, the report claimed.

Banco Santander and BBVA SA pulled down the Spanish IBEX 35 index 0.6 percent while UniCredit SpA and ENI SpA weighed on the FTSE MIB Italy Index, dragging it down 1.5 percent.


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