NEW YORK — The threat of Hurricane Gloria on Friday closed the New York and American stock exchanges all day while most regional exchanges and commodities markets closed after brief trading. But the storm created a brisk business for Jefferies & Co., the independent market maker.
The New York Stock Exchange delayed a decision on whether to open until 10 a.m. EDT, its normal opening time, and then decided to close for the day "at the urging of many, many members," said Richard Torrenzano, a vice president of the exchange. It was the first time in more than a decade that the Big Board had closed for bad weather, he said.
The Pacific, Boston, Midwest and Philadelphia exchanges were forced to close after brief trading when the storm knocked out the air conditioning at Securities Industry Automation Corp. in New York, which provides computer processing used by the regional exchanges. Without air conditioning, the computers presumably would overheat.
"We were meeting to decide whether to stay open, and then we heard the air conditioner had made the decision for us," a spokesman for the Philadelphia exchange said.
Also closed after brief openings were the New York Commodity Exchange, the Chicago Board Options Exchange and the New York Mercantile Exchange. The New York Coffee, Sugar & Cocoa Exchange and the New York Cotton Exchange never opened. The Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange remained open.
Los Angeles-based Jefferies, one of the nation's largest "off-exchange" trading firms, traded about 12 million shares, or about double its usual daily volume, in activity that was spurred by several simultaneous takeover actions.
Highest volume was in General Foods, which announced that it would be acquired by Philip Morris for $120 a share. Jefferies traded 5.46 million shares at a closing price of $118, up $7.75 from Thursday's close on the New York Stock Exchange.
Other volume leaders in Jefferies trading were Revlon, a takeover target of Pantry Pride, with 550,000 shares traded at $46 a share, up $3.50; Beatrice Foods, 473,000 shares at $37 a share, up 87.5 cents; Cessna, 362,000 shares at $29.75, no change, and Richardson-Vicks, 259,000 shares at $53.25 a share, up 12.5 cents.
Unilever, the British consumer products maker, on Thursday raised its bid for Richardson-Vicks to $60 a share from $56 a share, provided that the Richardson-Vicks board approves the offer.
"All in all, it was a pretty good day," said Frank Baxter, managing director of Jefferies' London office.
The over-the-counter market operated under the National Assn. of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation system (NASDAQ) traded until noon. Gordon Macklin, president of the association, said the closing was made because most of the big New York brokerages that account for one-half of the NASDAQ volume had closed.
The NASDAQ market's volume was 5.34 million shares, compared to its average daily volume of about 60 million shares, Macklin said.
The directors of the Chicago Board of Trade voted to extend for one day, until Monday, the futures-contracts delivery deadline for some Treasury bonds and notes and Ginnie Mae collateralized depository receipts.
A spokesman for the Pacific Stock Exchange said the closing came after 65 minutes of trading, during which volume totaled 105,500 shares, compared to the exchange's usual 4 million to 5 million shares daily.
The storm disruption came on the final day of a six-hour trading schedule for the New York and American stock exchanges. On Monday they will open half an hour earlier, to trade between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. EDT. Most regional exchanges, including the Pacific, will follow their lead.