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Burst Pipes Halt Goldman's Nasdaq Trading

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. on Monday halted trading of Nasdaq stocks for much of the day after a burst steam pipe in a 50-story Manhattan office building over the weekend disrupted the investment bank's business. 

Goldman, one of the biggest market makers, or traders of Nasdaq stocks, resumed trading just before 3 p.m. EDT, an hour before the Nasdaq market closes. 

``Over the weekend, a steam pipe ruptured at One New York Plaza, affecting the building's water cooling system, which in turn affected the building's occupants, including Goldman Sachs,'' said Kate Baum, a Goldman Sachs spokeswoman. 

The disruption, which knocked out air conditioning on several floors and threatened computer systems, caused Goldman to move employees that work in the building to other offices and forced it to stop market-making activity on Nasdaq -- the No. 2 U.S. exchange. Market makers buy and sell stocks and pocket the difference between the bid and offer price. 

Trading activity in New York Stock Exchange issues, options, futures, prime brokerage and other equity businesses was unaffected throughout the day, Baum said, as were operations at its share trading unit Spear, Leeds. 

One New York Plaza, known for its ``waffle-iron'' facade, is owned by Canadian real estate company TrizecHahn Corp. TrizecHahn's portfolio includes the Sears Tower in Chicago and the Watergate Building in Washington. 

The mishap occurred at 6:30 a.m. EDT on Saturday morning when the casing in the largest of the building's three steam turbines ruptured, said Doug Winshall, senior vice president for office properties at TrizecHahn. 

Between 200 and 300 people from the company, city government and New York utility Consolidated Edison Inc. have been working since Saturday morning to clean up the building and fix the turbine, he said. 

The cost of replacing the turbine will run into the millions of dollars, Winshall said. Much of the repair and replacement costs will be covered by existing insurance policies, he said. 

WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING, TENANTS SUFFER 

A number of tenants were effected by the mishap. 

``A lot of offices are not in, a lot of people are not dropping off their laundry,'' said Margarite Keylin, owner of One New York Plaza Cleaners, adding that the burst pipe did not affect her business directly. 

Around 500 workers, or more than half the staff at the law firm of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson did not go to work at One New York Plaza as a result of the air conditioning lapse, Executive Director Michael Denkensoh said. 

The firm had a skeleton staff of directors and managers in place, and the computer and phone systems were up and running, allowing attorneys and others to operate from the offices or remotely, he said. 

Conditions had improved somewhat on Monday from the weekend, Denkensoh said. 

``Today I am comfortable, yesterday I wasn't so comfortable,'' he said, adding that the offices had limited air conditioning. 

Workers at One New York Plaza said signs warned to not drink the building's water until further notice. 

Prudential Securities also has offices in the building, but it was not affected as it has a back-up cooling system. 

Goldman has about six offices in the area. Its main offices are nearby at 85 Broad Street.