The New York Stock Exchange is temporarily closing trading floors and moving to fully electronic trading next week to prevent the spread of coronavirus, exchange operator Intercontinental Exchange Inc (ICE) said Wednesday.
The announcement comes shortly after the NYSE sent an update to traders informing them that two people — a member of the trading floor community and an NYSE employee — tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. The NYSE had implemented coronavirus screening procedures for anyone wishing to enter the building. Both individuals who tested positive were screened on Monday and not allowed to enter the building.
The facilities to be closed include the NYSE equities trading floor and the NYSE American options floor in New York, as well as the NYSE Arca trading floor in San Francisco. All-electronic trading will begin at the market open on Monday.
“NYSE’s trading floors provide unique value to issuers and investors, but our markets are fully capable of operating in an all-electronic fashion to serve all participants, and we will proceed in that manner until we can re-open our trading floors to our members,” New York Stock Exchange President Stacey Cunningham said in a Wednesday statement.
The markets will continue to operate under normal trading hours despite the floor closures.
The announcement comes as a growing number of enterprises have begun to close offices and direct staff to work from home amid fears of the coronavirus outbreak. As of Wednesday evening, more than 7,500 Americans had been infected with coronavirus and more than 110 had died.
NYSE said both individuals who tested positive for coronavirus were last in the Exchange building on March 13, and the building was sanitized the following day.
Intercontinental said the NYSE has “robust, regularly tested contingency plans” to enable electronic trading on its exchanges with physical trading floors.
On the NYSE equities market, the exchange’s Designated Market Makers will connect electronically to provide liquidity in their stocks, the company said. But floor broker order types will be unavailable. On the options markets, electronic trading will continue normally but open-outcry trading will be suspending with the closure of the trading floors.
This is the first time the NYSE equities market will operate entirely electronically.
Just two days prior to the announcement, Cunningham told CNN Business that the NYSE was taking precautions to protect employees and other on the trading room floor, but was avoiding moving to all-electronic trading.
“We do have the ability to trade entirely electronically. Our stocks trade better when we include human judgment so we haven’t taken that additional step just yet, but we can do that,” Cunningham said on Monday. “We operate five different equity markets, the New York Stock Exchange is the only one that incorporates a human element to the trading.”
Intercontinental did not give an exact date when it plans to reopen the trading floors but said it will continue to “monitor events to determine the appropriate time.”