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DISASTERS

NYSE Stock Exchange to shut trading floor Monday, electronic trading to continue as normal

The New York Stock Exchange and the NYMEX are shutting their trading floors in New York Monday as Hurricane Sandy bears down on the Big Apple.

But trading will continue electronically on both exchanges.

NYSE Euronext said Sunday it is putting in place its contingency plans beginning Monday and will announce later when the trading floor will reopen.

The New York Mercantile Exchange, a commodity futures exchange, also will be shutting on Monday its trading floor which is located in a mandatory evacuation zone. The CME Group, which owns NYMEX, said all electronic markets will open at their regularly scheduled times.

The moves come as Hurricane Sandy causes the shutdown of transportation systems throughout the region. Governor Andrew Cuomo said New York City's subways and buses will shut down Sunday evening. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered residents to evacuate some low-lying areas Sunday and said city public schools will close Monday.

Trading can still go on even without people yelling orders to buy and sell across the floor of the exchange because many orders on the NYSE are already handled electronically. On Monday, securities normally handled on the NYSE will shift to the purely electronic NYSE Arca.

The servers that handle all of the exchange's transactions are housed in Mahwah, N.J.

Trading has rarely stopped for weather. A blizzard led to a late start and an early close on Jan. 8, 1996, according to the exchange's parent company, NYSE Euronext. The NYSE shut down on Sept. 27, 1985 for Hurricane Gloria.

Since the Great Depression, the longest suspension in trading at the NYSE occurred after the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2011, when the exchange closed for four days.

Sandy, a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 75 mph as of Sunday afternoon, was blamed for 65 deaths in the Caribbean before it began churning up the Eastern Seaboard. It was expected to hook left toward the mid-Atlantic coast and come ashore late Monday or early Tuesday, most likely in New Jersey, colliding with a wintry storm moving in from the west and cold air streaming down from the Arctic.

Forecasters said the monster combination could bring close to a foot of rain, a potentially lethal storm surge and punishing winds extending hundreds of miles outward from the storm's center. It could also dump up to 2 feet of snow in Kentucky, North Carolina and West Virginia.