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Coronavirus forces New York Stock Exchange into electronic-only trading mode

Two cases were confirmed during pre-emptive screenings

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) will close its trading floors and switch to electronic-only mode in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) threat, CNBC reports.

Intercontinental Exchange, the NYSE’s parent company, said the measures represent “a precautionary step to protect the health and well-being of employees, and the floor community, in response to COVID-19.”

[Read: The coronavirus is strengthening the case for free internet access]

Two people screened at the entrance of its Lower Manhattan building have returned positive readings for COVID-1, NYSE president Stacey Cunningham told reporters. The firm began pre-emptively testing employees and building entrants for the virus this week.

The two who tested positive were initially denied entry to the building and have not entered since. The NYSE‘s offices, colloquially known as The Big Board, were also reportedly cleaned the day before testing started.

Wall Street is headed home, just like the rest of us

NYSE expects services to be largely unaffected, as many of the traders already work exclusively online. In the past, thousands of traders passed through NYSE trading floors every day, but TIME notes that number has dwindled to around 500 over the past few decades.

Still, floor trading makes up 18% of all NYSE trading volume, so there’s undoubtedly going to be challenges. Earlier this week, Hard Fork reported that many on Wall Street were already fed up with lacklustre responses from their employers.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange, another major American trading hub, also closed its futures trading floor earlier this month — but at the time there were only 54 traders still showing up, accounting for just a traction of the overall trading volume.

NYSE‘s temporary measures are set to come in place on Monday, but the exchange is yet to advise when it expects to re-open physical trading floors. So, Wall Street had better get comfy at home.

Published March 19, 2020 — 11:41 UTC

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