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) -- On Wednesday morning, cast members of CBS' new season of


rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. It was a fitting cast of characters handed the NYSE bell-ringing duty, as a brutal blizzard blanketed Wall Street and Washington D.C. on Wednesday, raising questions as to which earnings and planned capital market events and regulatory happenings would survive the snowstorm.

Survival may overstate the impact of the blizzard, but capital market fates were thrown off course, at least temporarily, by the plentiful snowflakes buoyed by strong winds and pelting the façade of the New York Stock Exchange. What should have been just another busy earnings daily calendar turned into the capital markets version of the snow day, with trading volumes lighter than usual.



cast was at the NYSE to plug its latest

Heroes versus Villains

season, and the usual heroes and villains of the market -- such as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and new market villain


(TM) - Get Toyota Motor Corp. Report

-- were tied up in the meteorological market day. To see the impact of the snow storm on those markets, read on....


In the nation's capital, the second major snowstorm in as many weeks blanketed the Capitol Dome.

The capitol ground to the type of halt usually synonymous with the every-day workings of Congress. Government offices in Washington were closed for the third straight day, at a cost of lost productivity estimated at $100 million per day.The winter weather in Washington did not limit its negative impact to changing the Outlook calendars of Hill staffers.

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Arlington, Virginia-based

FBR Capital Markets

( FBCM) rescheduled its fourth quarter earnings from 9 A.M. ET Wednesday to 5 P.M. ET Wednesday, as the mid-Atlantic states continued to experience the brunt of the storm front.

New York

It was a light trading day on Wall Street Wednesday, and amidst the rising bluffs of snow, the markets -- notably the S&P 500 Index and Dow Jones Industrial Average -- were flat in the early afternoon.

Even farm animals, often known for being able to predict coming storms, were feeling the full effect of the winter weather, and that was passed from feedlots to the livestock markets. On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, hog futures rose to their highest level in six months as beef and hogs shivered through the cold, and shed previous weight gains.


Not even the most powerful economic figure in the land could trump the snow, as

Federal Reserve


Ben Bernanke

had his much-anticipated testimony before the House Financial Services Committee canceled. The Bernanke testimony was to cover the critical issue of the economic impact of winding down the emergency Federal Reserve liquidity programs.

The cancellation of the hearing, however, did not stop Bernanke from going ahead with his prepared remarks about the Fed's plans.

Bernanke's prepared remarks were released to the press and, in the remarks, Bernanke said the Fed will start to tighten credit by raising the interest rate it pays banks for money that they leave in the central bank. The move would have the effect of raising bank prime rates and filter down to consumer loan rates also. This would be a new strategy for the Fed, as it would not use the federal funds rate as the primary tool of manipulating the credit markets.


The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee canceled its planned Toyota hearings, rescheduling for Feb . 24. The week of Feb. 24 looks to be a dire week for Toyota in Washington D.C., as the House Energy and Commerce Committee has its own Toyota grandstanding opportunity scheduled for that week.

JPMorgan Chase

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get JPMorgan Chase & Co. Report

went into emergency mode, sending out a memorandum to its staff that cots would be available to employees at its New York metro-area buildings, and its auditorium at 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza would be partitioned for separate male and female shelters.

Cell Therapeutics

Cell Therapeutics

(CTIC) - Get CTI BioPharma Corp. Report

was left out in the cold by the FDA on Wednesday. The biotech company had been expecting an FDA advisory panel review of its lymphoma drug pixantrone on Wednesday, but that date with biotech fate was canceled and no new date selected for the FDA review process.


biotech watchers have been expecting the FDA advisory panel to reject the Cell Therapeutics drug, meaning the snow-day on Wednesday may have only provided the biotech company with a short reprieve, and Cell Therapeutics new drug will eventually be left out in the cold by the FDA permanently.

-- Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.

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