Wall Street, Hedge Funds Brace For Hurricane Sandy

Oct 29 2012 | 12:57pm ET

The world's hedge fund capital ground to a halt yesterday and today as an unusual storm threatens to wreak havoc on the U.S. East Coast.

The New York Stock Exchange closed its trading floor for the first time in almost 30 years due to the approach of Hurricane Sandy, but said that stocks listed on the Big Board would trade on its electronic exchange, NYSE Arca. The Nasdaq Stock Market also said its electronic trading operations would remain open.

Meanwhile, other financial institutions prepared for the storm, moving employees into hotels in Manhattan and planning to route orders—expected to be light in volume—through offices elsewhere in the U.S.

Sandy is not expected to hit the New York area—home to both the world's largest hedge-fund jurisdiction, New York, and its third-largest, Connecticut, as well as another major hedge fund center, New Jersey—directly. But an unusual Arctic jet stream situation is likely to have the storm take a hard left turn inland near Wilmington, Del., sending a huge storm surge and powerful winds into the tri-state area.

Even if Sandy does not cause the flooding—Lower Manhattan's Financial District is said to be particularly vulnerable, and the hedge fund Riviera along Connecticut's Long Island Sound shoreline is expected to be hit with some of the largest storm surges—and power outages feared, officials have preemptively acted in ways that make it impossible to do business as usual. Some 375,000 people in New York City alone have been ordered to evacuate, and all mass transit operations in the city and its surrounding areas have been shut down, making it hard for employees to get into and around Manhattan, or for hedge funders to get from Manhattan to Greenwich, Conn., and Stamford.

The mass-transit shut-downs affect the New York City Subway, the Long Island Railroad, Metro North Railroad, which serves the city's northern suburbs and Connecticut, and New Jersey Transit. In addition, Amtrak services are suspended north of New York City.

Among Connecticut and New Jersey hedge funds, there is an additional fear that, should power be lost, it will take longer to restore it in the suburbs than in New York City. But many have contingency plans for such after last year's near-miss with Hurricane Irene.

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