U.S. insurers have more than $500 billion in capital, according to Morgan Stanley. That gives them enough of a cushion to withstand losses from most scenarios. Chubb, Allstate and Travelers are the insurers most likely to suffer losses, because they claim a large share of the market in areas where the storm looks likely to hit. If losses top $10 billion, global reinsurance companies would also take a hit.
All major U.S. stock exchanges were shuttered Monday as areas around New York's Financial District came under a mandatory evacuation order. The shutdown was extended through Tuesday, marking the first time since 1888 that the exchange will have been closed for two consecutive days because of weather.
Originally, the NYSE had planned to close just its exchange floor and allow traders to buy and sell stock electronically. Then it decided to shut down electronic trading, too. The NYSE said it was worried about putting staff who were needed to help run the electronic trading in danger.
NYSE Chief Operating Officer Larry Leibowitz said he also was worried about low trading volumes due to many investors taking the day off. The fear is that just a few trades could whip stock around like the storm outside, sending prices surging one minute or plunging the next. As automatic trading by computers has come to dominate stock trading, it was a fear voiced by other Wall Street experts.
Some companies, including Pfizer Inc. and Thomson Reuters, postponed quarterly earnings reports scheduled for release early this week.
CME Group's New York trading floor was closed, but its electronic markets for commodities were functioning. CME said electronic trading for commodities would also be open Tuesday. Bond trading again will be closed.
The effect on auto sales may be minimal, some analysts say. Many people who planned to buy cars in the last few days of the month, when deals tend to peak, bought cars over the weekend instead, said Jesse Toprak, an analyst with car buying site TrueCar.com.