To Jonathan D. Corpina, a broker who made his way to the building by flashlight early in the morning, it was a welcome sight.
"Walking up this pitch-black street ... with the red, white and blue lights going, it was clear this was the only building in downtown Manhattan that was open," said Corpina, senior managing partner of Meridian Equity Partners. He added, referring to the opening: "It was important to have gotten that message out there that we are here, we are accepting orders, it's business as usual."
The opening followed days of scrambling by NYSE officials to make sure power, telecom connections and computers would be ready for a full trading day. The exchange organized car pools to get people to work, set aside special parking for those driving in and booked hotel rooms nearby for traders and other staffers. And it filled fuel tanks for its generators to the brim.
"We're not going to have power in lower Manhattan until probably the weekend, so we've got to make sure that our generator continues to be topped up," Larry Leibowitz, NYSE's chief operating officer, said from the exchange floor after the opening. "There's just lots and lots of details that we've spent the last 36 hours running through."
Leibowitz said that his biggest concern had been ensuring enough people who worked both at, and for, the exchange could make it into work. On Tuesday, NYSE ran a mock trading session with its all-electronic Arca trading system just in case too few people showed up.
In the end, more people made it in than the exchange had expected.
Many workers on the trading floor use the subway to get downtown, but that was not an option Wednesday. Hurricane Sandy flooded many tunnels, leaving the 108-year-old subway system with its worst damage in history. New York's governor, Andrew Cuomo, said says limited subway service will resume in New York City today.<co on Thursday>
"With subways down, I was wondering if people were even going to get to work today," said Randy Frederick, a managing director at Charles Schwab watching the opening from a TV at his Austin, Texas, office. "But obviously enough did. The markets opened stronger than many expected."
The two-day closing came just as big U.S. companies were reporting their quarterly earnings. That forced dozens of companies to postpone their reports to later this week, adding another wrinkle to the trading days ahead.
But trading volume Wednesday was normal, and it wound up being a relatively quiet day after all.
The Dow Jones industrial average gave up an early gain and wound up closing down just 10.75 points, at 13096.46. The Standard & Poor's 500 index edged down 0.22 point at 1412.16 and the Nasdaq composite lost 10.72 points to 2977.23.