NEW YORK -- The nation's major stock markets is expected to reopen Monday, six days after terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center in an act that the top stock-trading regulator called a "physical catastrophe" rather than an economic one.
When asked if it might be a "Black Monday," New York Stock Exchange chairman Richard Grasso said he would not predict the direction of the markets, but said, "They will be strong, they will be safe."
Grasso expects that on Monday between 75,000 and 125,000 securities industry employees and investors will return to lower Manhattan, where thousands are believed to have died.
On peak days, in normal times, those employee numbers can swell 30 percent to 40 percent higher, he said.
The market shutdown is the longest since March 4-14, 1933, during the banking crisis. This closing could not end sooner, market executives said, because workers need more time to restore power and communications and because they did not want to disrupt rescue efforts.
The executives were under pressure, however, to open as soon as possible to restore confidence in the markets. They said they were assured by Verizon Communications, Con Edison and the city that enough power, phone lines and transportation will be in place by 9:30 a.m. Monday despite the enormous blows those operations suffered.
The markets plan to push operations to their capacity in a dry-run test of operations on Saturday. Grasso and Nasdaq chairman Hardwick Simmons said at a news conference that they would have had to test operations on the fly using real trades rather than in a dry run if they tried to open for part of the day Friday.
Investment giants that were based in destroyed or damaged facilities in or near the Trade Center, including Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Salomon Smith Barney and Cantor Fitzgerald, rushed to gear up alternative sites for thousands of employees in New Jersey and elsewhere.
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