An uncommon silence replaced the hectic bustle normally found on the nation's financial trading floors for several hours this morning as stock markets joined other U.S. businesses in commemorating the first anniversary of the terror attacks on the United States.
Enterprises from lower Manhattan to the West Coast remembered those lost during the terrorist attacks, but at the same time hoped to show that life goes on for the world of commerce.
The major U.S. equity markets — the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq and the American Stock Exchange — all delayed their openings well beyond the usual 9:30 a.m. to allow for special memorial services at nearby Ground Zero — the site where the World Trade Center once stood — as well as for their own opening tributes.
Thoughts of the attacks seemed to weigh heavily on traders. Stocks traded slightly higher for most of the day, but ended the session slightly lower in very subdued volume.
"I don't think anyone is focused on stocks and that's part of the problem today," Stephen Massocca, head of trading at CIBC World Markets told wire services. "Tomorrow it will be back to business, but today people are reliving some terrible memories."
Stock Exchanges, Marred by Attacks, Commemorate Losses
The exchanges in New York's financial district were greatly affected by the Sept. 11 attacks, remaining closed for four tense trading days following last year's attacks.
For instance, the New York Stock Exchange, which today delayed its opening by 2 ½ hours, was not damaged directly last Sept. 11 but had the connection to its member firms and customers disrupted because of damage to a switching facility near the twin towers.
Before today's opening bell, the exchange observed two minutes of silence, followed by the singing of the national anthem by New York City Police Officer Danny Rodriguez.
On hand for the ringing of the opening bell were dignitaries like New York Gov. George Pataki, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Harvey Pitt, as well as representatives of New York City's police force, firefighters, sanitation workers, emergency squads and the Port Authority Police Department.
"It's a day of sorrow as we think back on those heroes — but it should also be a day of pride as we think of how New Yorkers responded," said Pataki.
Giuliani said the attacks proved the United States to be stronger than the terrorists. "A country whose spirit was supposed to be broken became a country more united, more determined, and understanding deeply why we're right and they're wrong," he told the assembled crowd.
Bell Tolls for Lost Colleagues
The American Stock Exchange, which was damaged by the attacks and lost 10 members who were attending a breakfast meeting at the World Trade Center's Windows on the World restaurant, held an opening ceremony at 10:45 a.m. with statements from its chairman, a moment of silence and the singing of "God Bless America."
The AMEX's opening bell rang 10 times in remembrance of the 10 victims the exchange lost that day.
Nasdaq held an 11 a.m. opening ceremony featuring a second-grade class from Mississippi that wrote and illustrated an award-winning book, September 12th: We Knew Everything Would Be All Right.