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Sandy Strengthens as It Moves Toward East Coast

Updated from 1:06 p.m. EDT with NYSE Tuesday closure

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq and the CME Group in Chicago closed their physical trading floors and electronic trading Monday in accordance with emergency actions by government officials as Hurricane Sandy closes in on the East Coast.

This will be the first time in 27 years that the NYSE, a unit of NYSE Euronext (NYX) will close the trading floor because of weather. Trading was suspended on Friday, Sept. 27, 1985, as Hurricane Gloria battered the East Coast.

"We support the consensus of the markets and the regulatory community that the dangerous conditions developing as a result of Hurricane Sandy will make it extremely difficult to ensure the safety of our people and communities, and safety must be our first priority," NYSE Euronext said in a statement.

"We anticipate that the center of the storm is going to hit landfall sometime this evening, but because of the nature of this storm we are certain that this is going to be a slow-moving process through a wide swath of the country, and millions of people are going to be affected," President Barack Obama said Monday at a press conference.

Earlier Sunday, NYSE representatives had said the exchange would be open for business as usual Monday, but they later reversed course.

The NYSE announced Monday afternoon that it would close U.S. markets for Tuesday, as well.

"It is likely that the markets will be closed on Tuesday," according to a notice sent to traders by Nasdaq OMX (NDAQ - Get Report) late Sunday, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Bond markets are expected to be closed all day Tuesday, according to the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association.

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Both the city and state have declared a state of emergency as the hurricane rolls up the Atlantic, and the city has ordered the evacuation of low-lying areas. Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Transit Authority shut down the city's subway, commuter trains and buses Sunday night for an as-yet undetermined period.

Hurricane Sandy stayed on a predicted path that could take it over Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York on its way to a collision course with two other weather systems, creating a superstorm with the potential for havoc over 800 miles from the East Coast to the Great Lakes.

The storm could endanger up to 50 million people for days.

The center of the storm was positioned to come ashore Monday night in New Jersey, meaning the worst of the surge could be in the northern part of New Jersey and in New York City and on Long Island.

At 8 a.m EDT, according to the National Hurricane Center, the storm was moving at 18 mph and accelerating, producing sustained winds of 90 mph.

Sandy was about 260 miles south/southeast of New York City, and the National Hurricane Center reported that hurricane-force winds were expected along portions of the coast between Chincoteague, Va. and Chatham, Mass.

The storm system was expected to bring life-threatening storm surge, plus heavy Appalachian snows, the National Weather Service reported.

Hurricane Sandy is expected to become a wintertime low pressure system prior to making landfall, but the National Hurricane Center reported that this would not cause the storm to weaken. The process could strengthen the hurricane.

The president cancelled a campaign event in Orlando, Fla. in order to travel back to Washington.

"The storm overnight picked up speed and intensity," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Air Force One. "And a decision was made that in order to return to Washington to monitor and oversee the efforts to prepare for the storm and respond to it, we needed to leave earlier than planned."

Republican nominee Mitt Romney cancelled events in New Hampshire and Virginia, and the campaign noted that their offices in North Carolina, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Virginia would be collecting supplies to deliver local storm relief.

FEMA was expected to make an updated announcement sometime in the afternoon.

Airlines canceled nearly 11,000 flights and Amtrak began suspending train service across the Northeast.

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