As Hurricane Sandy bears down on the East Coast, stock markets in the U.S. closed their doors in the first unscheduled closure since just after the 9/11 attacks and the first weather-related closure in 27 years. With much of lower Manhattan in mandatory evacuation zones, the exchanges decided to forgo an earlier plan that would have allowed electronic trading to continue.
Looking forward, NYSE Euronext CEO Duncan Niederaurer told CNBC that he thought it was "hard to imagine" that markets would be able to open Tuesday, although the exchange hasn't yet made a formal announcement on tomorrow's status. For more information, be sure to read Fool contributor Alex Planes' look at the history of past shutdowns by clicking here.
Although the markets are closed, futures trading gives a hint of what the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) would be doing if they were open. Earlier this morning, futures fell as much as 100 points, but they've since pulled back to just a 60-point drop. Meanwhile, shares in Europe are down but also up from their their lows, with the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE ) down a quarter-percent and other major markets generally seeing losses of less than 1%.
On the economic front, the U.S. Department of Commerce managed to get its scheduled release on consumer spending and personal income out before the storm. The news was good for those seeking more economic activity, as spending rose 0.8% in September -- its biggest increase in seven months. Incomes grew at a slower 0.4% pace, with the savings rate falling to 3.3% for September.
Meanwhile, a number of companies, including Dow component Pfizer (NYSE: PFE ) , have chosen to push back their scheduled earnings announcements due to the storm. Pfizer plans now to release its quarterly report on Thursday rather than Tuesday, while Thomson Reuters (NYSE: TRI ) and NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG ) will announce on Friday.
The markets aren't taking any chances with Sandy, and neither should you. If you're in the vicinity of the storm, be sure to stay safe.