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A Necessary Step:
All-Electronic Trading at the NYSE

Published on March 23, 2020

The NYSE took the unprecedented step today of initiating fully electronic trading, closing our Trading Floors temporarily as our nation fights the spread of COVID-19. This is the first time in the NYSE’s 228-year history that our Floors have been closed while the markets are open.

We have taken this step for two key reasons. One, the safety of our employees and Floor personnel is paramount and, despite their continued willingness keep the Floor operating, we felt it prudent to move to all-electronic trading at this time. Two, it is our firm belief that the U.S. equity markets must remain open and trading, despite the extreme volatility triggered by this crisis.

The ability to trade in a fully electronic manner is something we test regularly as part of our business continuity planning. We activated these systems with our Opening Bell this morning.

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All NYSE markets will continue to operate under normal trading hours despite the closure of the trading floors.

Under all-electronic NYSE trading, many of the same individuals who make our markets unique continue to play critical roles. They are simply connecting remotely. For example, our Designated Market Makers (DMMs), who provide liquidity for NYSE-listed stocks, continue to do so remotely, with the ability to facilitate opening and closing auctions from a distance.

While their unique access and order types are unavailable during the Trading Floor closure, many NYSE Floor Brokers are also connecting remotely and using general electronic order types, the same way orders are entered by member firms not physically present on the Floor. The NYSE can also conduct IPOs and bring other new issues to market, even with our Trading Floor closed.

Despite all this, it’s important to remember that this is a temporary step taken under extraordinary circumstances. Stocks on the NYSE trade better than on electronic exchanges because of the presence of our DMMs and Floor Brokers. Human judgment combined with the latest technology results in reduced volatility and tighter spreads. 

We look forward to the day when we re-open the Floor and welcome back to 11 Wall Street all of the Trading Floor community, who are so important to the markets we operate. Until then, our bell continues to ring and our markets remain open for business.

Stacey Cunningham, President of the New York Stock Exchange