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Market Recap: Back in Business


Markets closed mixed today:

▼ Dow: -0.08 percent

▼ Nasdaq: -0.36 percent

▲ S&P: +0.02 percent

Precious metals:

▲ Gold: +0.54 percent to $1,719.71 an ounce

▲ Silver: +0.61 percent to settle at $32.26


▼ Oil: -0.03 percent

Markets were mixed today because:

Wall Street is back in business.

Traffic is snarled, streets flooded, subways idle and power out in many parts of Manhattan and beyond, but the New York Stock Exchange opened trading without a hitch Wednesday after a historic two-day shutdown caused by Superstorm Sandy.

At 9:30 a.m., right on schedule, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg rang the opening bell, then gave a hopeful thumbs-up. Cheers rose from traders on the trading floor below, falsely rumored to be flooded, but dry Wednesday morning, and festive.

"It's good for the city, good for country, it's good for everyone to get back to work," the mayor told CNBC moments later while leaving the exchange building at 11 Wall Street.

The stakes were high for trading to resume.

Wall Street traders and strategists were worried that a third day of delay would have meant more pent-up demand from customers to buy and sell stocks, resulting in a surge of orders that could send the market on wild ride. There were also doubts that there would be enough people in offices trading stocks for the market to match buyers and sellers smoothly.

But trading was placid from the start Wednesday, and much of the worry ebbed away.

The last time the exchange closed for two consecutive days because of weather was during the Blizzard of 1888 - 124 years ago.

With power out in much of downtown Manhattan, the NYSE building Wednesday was an isolated hub of activity in a largely deserted and darkened neighborhood. The company that runs the exchange, NYSE Euronext, used backup generators to power its operations, including turning on the red, white and blue lights trained on its six-columned facade.

The opening followed days of scrambling by NYSE officials to make sure power, telecom connections and computers would be ready for a full trading day. The exchange organized car pools to get people to work, set aside special parking for those driving in and booked hotel rooms nearby for traders and other staffers. And it filled fuel tanks for its generators to the brim.

In the end, more people made it in than the exchange had expected.

Many workers on the trading floor use the subway to get downtown, but that was not an option Wednesday. Superstorm Sandy flooded many tunnels, leaving the 108-year-old subway system with its worst damage in history. New York's governor, Andrew Cuomo, said limited subway service will resume in New York City on Thursday.

The two-day closing came just as big U.S. companies were reporting their quarterly earnings. That forced dozens of companies to postpone their reports to later this week, adding another wrinkle to the trading days ahead.

But trading volume Wednesday was normal, and it wound up being a relatively quiet day after all.

The Dow Jones industrial average gave up an early gain and wound up closing down just 10.75 points, at 13,096.46. The Standard & Poor's 500 index edged down 0.22 point at 1,412.16 and the Nasdaq composite lost 10.72 points to 2,977.23.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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