U.S. stock markets to open Friday at earliest

Thursday, September 13, 2001

NEW YORK -- The nation's stock markets won't reopen before Friday as New York's financial district struggles to recover from a terrorist attack that devastated the World Trade Center.

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Harvey Pitt had said earlier that he believed the markets would be ready to open today, according to SEC spokesman John Heine.

But New York Stock Exchange Chairman Richard A. Grasso said at a Wednesday afternoon news conference that pending a meeting today, the stock markets hoped to resume trading Friday. The opening would be no later than Monday, he said. The meeting will include officials of financial markets, big Wall Street firms and the SEC.

Treasury Undersecretary Peter Fisher, who also spoke at the news conference, said government bond trading would resume today. Earlier, officials of the Chicago Board of Trade and Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where futures contracts are traded, said they would resume trading today.

The shutdown on the NYSE, the nation's oldest exchange, already was the longest since the market closed for two days at the end of World War II. The NYSE's longest closing was nearly four months during World War I.

Grasso said the securities officials wanted to avoid doing anything that would interrupt the recovery operation at the devastated trade center site, several blocks from the NYSE.

"Our first and primary concern is restoring the public's confidence that this marketplace ... will be up and functioning -- and no one can interrupt that resolve," he said.

The trade center is a few blocks from the NYSE in the Financial District, home to dozens of investment houses and brokerages. Its twin 110-story towers, among the world's tallest skyscrapers, collapsed Tuesday after two hijacked jetliners crashed into them, scattering debris throughout the area.

The New York Mercantile Exchange, where energy futures are traded, is in the nearby World Financial Center, which was not directly hit in the plane assault.

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