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NYSE President: Markets will stay open despite 'unprecedented anxiety' over coronavirus

Ines Ferré
Markets Reporter

The President of the New York Stock exchange says the markets will remain open despite “unprecedented anxiety” over the coronavirus and its impact on the economy. 

“All of the conversation that I have had with other exchanges, with our regulators, with our government. No one is suggesting that they’re even considering closing the markets,” said Stacey Cunningham during a conference call on Thursday hosted by the Economic Club of New York.

The comments were made on the same day the Dow (^DJI) and S&P 500 (^GSPC) posted gains for the third session in a row on hopes a government stimulus package will mitigate the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak. This week’s moves follow sharp sell-offs, which triggered temporary market-halting circuit breakers four times within eight trading sessions in previous weeks. 

NYSE Chief Operating Officer Stacey Cunningham, who will be the New York Stock Exchange's (NYSE) first female president, speaks during an interview with CNBC on the floor of the NYSE in New York, U.S., May 22, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Cunningham urged investors to think long term despite what she called an “unprecedented period of uncertainty” as many questions surrounding the coronavirus remain unanswered. “I’m confident that we will get through this and we will get to the other side. It’s just unclear exactly how long that’s going to be,” Cunningham said.

‘A smooth transition’

For the first time in history, the NYSE moved to a fully electronic platform on Monday after closing its trading floor temporarily over coronavirus concerns. Cunningham said the shift to go all electronic has been “a smooth transition.”

There’s no word on when the floor will open up again, but she hinted that testing may play a part in determining when that happens. “That doesn’t mean that has to happen after the virus is completely eradicated because that’s not realistic,” Cunningham said. “I think much before that point we’re going to get a sense of how can we test people for antibodies. How can we test people to see if they are carriers.”

On Thursday, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. topped 83,000, the most cases of anywhere in the world, according to real time data from Johns Hopkins University. New York, home of the stock exchange, has become the epicenter of the nation’s outbeak, with 100 people dying from the illness in a one-day period this week.

Ines covers the US stock market from the floor of the New York Exchange. Follow her on Twitter at @inesreports.

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