Hurricane Sandy shuts US stock markets

The destructive force of Hurricane Sandy will close US stock markets for a second straight day on Tuesday, as Wall Street turned its attention to whether markets would be able to resume functioning on the month's final trading day.

U.S. stock markets closed on Monday due to weather for the first time in 27 years. Bond markets closed early, at noon, as winds and waves from Hurricane Sandy lashed the Eastern seaboard.

NYSE Euronext and Nasdaq OMX Group, the largest two U.S. exchange operators, said they intend to reopen Wednesday, conditions permitting. The bond markets will also close on Tuesday, with traders aiming to reopen on Wednesday.

Wednesday is a key trading day because it marks the end of the month, when traders price portfolios. With New York still to feel the full impact of the storm, fears remained that wind damage and possible power outages could test the ability of markets to reopen. New York's mass transit system, which most employees use to get to work, also remained shut and it was unclear when service would be restored.

The broad effects of the market shutdown - the first for the NYSE in 27 years due to weather - were beginning to become more apparent by Monday, as analysts estimated banks and trading firms could lose tens of millions of dollars in revenue.

Some companies postponed their quarterly earnings, and banks closed branches in the Northeast, while promising to waive certain fees in hurricane-threatened areas.

Disaster modeling company Eqecat said the storm is likely to cause insured losses of $5 billion to $10 billion, and economic losses of $10 billion to $20 billion.

The trading closure also threatened to delay IPOs of at least six companies, while Facebook Inc employees were prevented from selling shares in the social media company after a lock-up on trading expired.

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