No Stock Trading Before Friday; Treasuries to Open Thursday

Balancing safety, sensitivity and availability of infrastructure, the exchanges put off equity trading until Friday at the earliest.
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Updated from 3:58 p.m. EDT

U.S. equity trading could resume as early as Friday,

New York Stock Exchange

Chairman Richard Grasso said Wednesday, but might be delayed until Monday in the wake of Tuesday's massive terrorist attack in New York.

Treasury markets will resume trading Thursday,

Securities and Exchange Commission

Under Secretary Peter Fisher said.

"Beyond the individual readiness of individual firms, we've examined issues of communications, power, safety and the soundness of structures in Lower Manhattan, and access to those structures by people who operate those firms," Grasso said during a news conference after a meeting among officials from securities firms, exchanges, and the SEC, at Bear Stearns' offices in New York.

"The equity markets will resume operations no later than Monday," Grasso said. "The group that gathered today will gather again tomorrow, with the idea that we may well be in a position to resume trading as early as Friday."

The news means stocks won't trade on the Big Board, the

Nasdaq Stock Market

or the American Stock Exchange, as well as other regional exchanges across the country.

Peter Fisher, undersecretary of the Treasury, said government bond traders could go back to work Thursday.

"We are ready for trading of government securities markets tomorrow," Fisher said. "That's a terrific step forward to show the effort of firms to make themselves ready to do that."

Pressure built consistently Wednesday to resume trading as soon as possible, if only to send a signal to the world that the U.S. will not be deterred from carrying on its national daily life.

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange said it will resume trading in interest rate, foreign exchange and commodity markets, and its Nikkei 225 equity index futures and options contracts tomorrow. For U.S. equity index products, it said it would coordinate its decision with other U.S. markets.

CNBC

reported that the Chicago Board Options Exchange also will resume business Thursday.

During a news conference in Washington this afternoon, Secretary of State Colin Powell said it's important for America to get back on the job.

"The American people need to try to restore the society to a sense of normalcy, to get back to our jobs, to get back to work," Powell said.

Earlier today, Nasdaq CEO Hardwick Simmons said the U.S. markets cannot succumb to intimidation.

"We want to assure you that the Nasdaq market will be open in the coming days. We are testing our systems and those of our members as I write. This is important and significant. A sign that our great nation will not be intimidated. We will conduct our affairs in the same way that we always do. Nasdaq and the American capital markets are about freedom and opportunity for all. We will continue in our mission to enable a stronger, more robust world for all of our citizens."

In New York, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani also was eager for things to get back to a day-to-day basis. "Go shopping, show that you're not afraid, take confidence in your safety and your city," the mayor said during a press conference.

While Grasso said the first concern is to restore investors' confidence in the equity markets, the recovery efforts of workers going through the rubble -- left when two hijacked planes slammed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on Tuesday -- is continuing.

"Our first and primary concern is obviously restoring the public's confidence that this marketplace, this American model, this dream will be up and functioning, and no one can interrupt that resolve," Grasso said. "But we are still in the recovery phase. There are still people trapped in that wreckage and we have got to be very careful that nothing we do from a financial standpoint or marketplace standpoint in any way interrupts the wonderful efforts of the brave men and women at that site trying to bring aid to those in need."