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After Hurricane Sandy, Stock Exchanges Prepare to Open

Wall Street is preparing to open for business on Wednesday as New York slowly recovers from the wreckage of Hurricane Sandy.

The New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq both plan to resume normal trading on Wednesday following the storm that flooded many parts of Manhattan and prompted widespread power outages. The market closed for two days as Hurricane Sandy battered down on the East Coast, forcing thousands of people to evacuate and causing millions of dollars in damage.

“It’s incredibly important to open these markets,” said Miranda Mizen, director of equities research at TABB Group. “It says New York is open for business.”

The New York Stock Exchange is one of the world’s most identifiable symbols of capitalism and its inability to operate is often viewed as a larger statement on stability of United States stock markets and the economy.

It’s rare for the stock markets to close operations for two days. The last time the New York Stock Exchange did so for weather-related reasons was 1888.

After terrorists attacked various American landmarks including the World Trade Center, the Big Board closed for four days. The reopening was heralded around the world as a sign of the strength of the United States.

“Barring any unforeseen circumstances, we will be open,” said Larry Leibowitz, the chief operating officer of the NYSE Euronext, the parent of the Big Board. “We all see the need to get the exchange working as quickly as we can.”

Wall Street — the extensive network of exchanges, banks and regulators — has spent the past two days testing systems and assessing the markets in an effort to ensure the trading day goes smoothly. Roughly 30 staff members at the N.Y.S.E. have been sleeping at the company’s headquarters.

Connectivity, the trade execution between the firms and the exchanges, has been a big focus. Representatives from various utility companies have been present on many conference calls on the issue.

Mr. Leibowitz said that the N.Y.S.E. has been able to connect to others, but some trading firms with damaged data centers or facilities have had issues. One nearby building that houses several firms, according Mr. Leibowitz, sustained significant damage and could hamper their ability to operate. Such firms are now scrambling to move operations and do repairs to be ready for the open on Wednesday.

“Right now, there are a lot of connectivity problems,” Mr. Leibowitz said.

The N.Y.S.E. is set to open both the electronic platform and the physical trading floor. The exchange has plans for the 200 or so floor traders to be in place. A number of traders and other exchange personnel live in areas where mass transit has been suspended, so the N.Y.S.E. has arranged cars for many people.

The exchange had battled earlier rumors that the trading floor was under three feet of water. While the stock exchange appeared to be unscathed, many other buildings in the vicinity had been flooded and the area remained desolate on Tuesday.

Mr. Leibowtiz, who lives not far from the N.Y.S.E., walked through flooded streets Tuesday morning to get to work. But he said the water stopped about two blocks away from the Big Board.

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