Hurricane Sandy Shuts Down the Stock Market

Morning Business Memo:

Sandbags have been placed outside the entrance of the New York Stock Exchange, a visual reminder of the threat from Hurricane Sandy. For the first time since 1985, a major storm has shut down NYSE and Futures trading in New York. A statement says floor and electronic trading have been closed today and a decision about Tuesday will be made later. "We support the consensus of the markets and the regulatory community that the dangerous conditions developing as a result of Hurricane Sandy will make it extremely difficult to ensure the safety of our people and communities, and safety must be our first priority," says NYSE Euronext, the company that runs the exchange. American Express, JP Morgan Chase, and Citigroup are among many financial companies that decided to close operations in Lower Manhattan. Many of the businesses are in the storm-evacuation zone. Insurance companies, utilities and the airlines are scrambling to deal with Sandy. The storm is expected to cause billions of dollars of losses for businesses and consumers. Sandy could prove far more expensive than Hurricane Irene in 2011. The global insurance industry is better equipped to take a hit than last year, when tornadoes and earthquakes caused major losses. Thousands of flights have been canceled. Because Sandy is such a large and slow-moving storm, it might take days for the airline industry to restore normal service in much of the East. Pfizer and Entergy are among big companies postponing the release of their third-quarter earnings reports because of the hurricane.

This is supposed to be the second-busiest week of the season for profits announcements. Friday's jobs report will get a lot of attention from investors later this week. The October survey from the Labor Department will be the last jobs update before the election. New numbers on home prices, auto sales and consumer confidence come out this week. Switzerland's largest bank, UBS, is planning to cut thousands of jobs in its investment-banking business. Some divisions will be wound down as UBS restructures itself.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio