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New York Stock Exchange Group president Stacey Cunningham joined "Your World" Friday to discuss the exchange's decision to close its trading floor beginning Monday in response to an employee and trader testing positive for the coronavirus.
"We just were concerned... we couldn't guarantee that people were going to be able to be protecting their health, "Cunningham told guest host Maria Bartiromo, calling the closure a "big deal." "We're temporarily shifting to fully electronic [trading] until we have more clarity around that situation."
A floor trader and a NYSE staff member tested positive for coronavirus, Fox Business' Charlie Gasparino reported Thursday. Countless U.S. businesses and institutions have shut down in recent days as officials seek to slow the spread of coronavirus.
While the stock exchange has closed before, Cunningham emphasized that the availability of electronic trading is the key difference between this crisis and past crises. However, she also predicted that there will be more market volatility compared to days when there are traders on the floor.
"I do think it's going to add to a little bit of additional volatility in an already volatile period of time. So that's concerning. From an operations perspective I'm confident it will work smoothly," Cunningham said. "So stocks will still open and close ... I just expect you're going to see additional volatility around the edges, and that's unfortunate given how the markets are already dealing with so many price swings."
The New York Stock Exchange last shut down in 2012, when it closed for two days amid the impact of Hurricane Sandy. It has closed on several other occasions, including for four months in 1914 at the outbreak of World War I, after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, and then again three days later for the funeral. The exchange was also closed after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and reopened six days later.
Cunningham said stock exchange workers are hopeful to return to the floor as quick as they can and she also touched on uncertainty.
"Markets react to uncertainty, as you know well, right. And so what we've been trying to understand is how was how is this virus pandemic going to continue to unfold? What's the long term impact going to be on Americans in their everyday lives?" Cunningham said. "And I think what we're seeing is the government rising to the occasion to answer some of those questions."
Fox Business' Thomas Barrabi contributed to this article.