NEW YORK -- Wall Street is back in business.
Traffic is still snarled, streets flooded, subways out of commission and power out in many parts of Manhattan and beyond, but the New York Stock Exchange opened trading without a hitch Wednesday after a historic two-day shutdown caused by Superstorm Sandy.
At 9:30 a.m., right on schedule, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg rang the opening bell, then gave a hopeful thumbs-up. Cheers rose from traders on the trading floor below, falsely rumored to be flooded, but dry Wednesday morning, and festive.
"It's good for the city, good for country, it's good for everyone to get back to work," the mayor told CNBC moments later while leaving the exchange building at 11 Wall Street.
The stakes were high for trading to resume.
Wall Street traders and strategists were worried that a third day of delay would have meant more pent-up demand from customers to buy and sell stocks, resulting in a surge of orders that could send the market on wild ride. There were also doubts that there would be enough people in offices trading stocks for the market to match buyers and sellers smoothly.
But trading was placid from the start Wednesday, and much of the worry ebbed away.
"I've lived through a lot of events -- crashes, mini-crashes, events of mother nature, man-made events, terrible events like 9/11," said Ted Weisberg, president of Seaport Securities, 72, shortly after the opening bell. "Somehow or other the markets continue."
The last time the exchange closed for two consecutive days because of weather was during the Blizzard of 1888 - 124 years ago.
With power out in much of downtown Manhattan, the NYSE building Wednesday was an isolated hub of activity in a largely deserted and darkened neighborhood. The company that runs the exchange, NYSE Euronext, used backup generators to power its operations, including turning on the red, white and blue lights trained on its six-columned facade.