NYSE readies itself for first ever all-electronic trading day

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Traders, some in medical masks, work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on March 20, 2020 in New York City. Trading on the floor will temporarily become fully electronic starting on Monday to protect employees from spreading the coronavirus. The Dow fell over 500 points on Friday as investors continue to show concerns over COVID-19.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

The Securities and Exchange Commission published rule changes on Saturday that allow the New York Stock Exchange  to conduct all-electronic trading. 

On Monday, the first day the trading floor will be closed, the NYSE opening at 9:30 a.m. ET should happen immediately for almost all stocks, subject to certain trading bands. Existing circuit breakers that would halt trading briefly should the S&P 500 decline by 7%, 13% and 20% will continue to be in effect.

The SEC noted the rule filings were temporary until May 15 or sooner if the trading floor reopens.

No calls to close trading or shorten hours

On Saturday night, the SEC tweeted that markets will remain open as usual:  “The nation’s capital markets have functioned well as market participants have implemented their business continuity plans. NYSE will move to fully electronic trading on Monday. Normal market hours will apply.”

As for calls to close trading or shorten market hours, there is no support among market participants.  NYSE President Stacey Cunningham, NASDAQ President Adena Freidman and CME CEO Terry Duffy have all stated their opposition to closing markets.

Financial services workers are “essential”

There was confusion on trading desks on Friday — particularly those based in New York — when New York governor Andrew Cuomo said he wanted 100% of workers to stay home, excluding those services deemed “essential.”  Were those working in financial services, including trading desks, “essential?” 

They are, according to the executive order issued by New York state on March 18, which specifically exempts “financial Institutions including banks, insurance, payroll, accounting, services related to financial markets” from the restrictions.

Regardless, most trading firms seem to be well on their way to allowing their traders to conduct business at home.

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