Businesses, Markets Observe Sept. 11

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.

And the bond market exchanges observed a minute of silence at 8:46 a.m., when the first plane hit the World Trade Center, and another minute of silence at 10:29 a.m., when the second tower collapsed. Bond markets closed early today at 2 p.m.

Financial Firms Remember

In addition to the exchanges, many financial firms, some of which were in or near the towers, will observe the day with moments of silence, providing counseling for employees and flexible attendance policies.

Cantor Fitzgerald, which lost 658 employees, did not open its U.S. offices. It was planning to hold a private memorial service at 4 p.m. in New York's Central Park.

"It is important that our employees have the opportunity to be with each other and their families on the anniversary of the tragic events of Sept. 11," said Cantor Fitzgerald Chairman and CEO Howard Lutnick, whose brother was among those killed in the attacks.

Investment bank Sandler O'Neill, which lost 66 of its workers, held a memorial service at its offices at 9 a.m., with three clergy members who presided over a service the firm held last October. The firm opened for business with the markets.

Merrill Lynch, which is headquartered at World Financial Center, next to the trade center site, had a ceremony for employees in the morning, followed by a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m.

The company dedicated plaques for all who perished in the attacks and for the three Merrill Lynch employees who died, and it also displayed flags of the armed forces that were raised at the company's building last year.

Silence, Understanding Across the Nation

Outside of New York, other businesses also opened late and allowed many employees to stay home in observance of the day.

Discount retailers T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, for instance, observed a minute of silence before opening their stores at noon. Memphis, Tenn.-based FedEx Corp. made counselors available and paid workers to volunteer for the day. FedEx expected some 30,000 of its employees to volunteer today with the United Way.

Microsoft was open for business, but allowed employees to take the day off if they needed it and did not advertise during the day. Other companies like UPS, Target, Sears and the Big Three automakers are also refraining from broadcasting commercials today.

Meanwhile, the airline industry came together to honor their lost crew members who died in last year's attacks with a ceremony in the nation's capital. And aboard a Chicago-to-San Francisco flight, the captain called for a moment of silence at the same time of day the first jet crashed into the World Trade Center.

Elsewhere, many of the nation's telemarketers will be taking the day off. The Direct Marketing Association, the industry trade group that represents telemarketers, has urged its members to either refrain from conducting unsolicited e-mail and telephone-marketing campaigns today or conduct their campaigns "with the utmost caution and respect."

ABCNEWS' Gena Binkley, Ramona Schindelheim, Steve Scott and Catherine Valenti contributed to this report.