The markets have taken a couple of days off to let Hurricane Sandy pass. And four-day weekends are rare in this neighborhood: Christmas Eve and the day after Thanksgiving only give market-makers the afternoon off.
But here we are, waiting for the opening bell after four days of downtime. You can't even get a decent bid or ask quote on major stocks since the NYSE and Nasdaq closed down completely. So how will the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) react when the blindfold comes off?
Dow components Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) and AT&T (NYSE: T ) reported major outages to their wired and wireless networks in the storm-struck area, and those stocks will likely open lower on Wednesday. Fallen service poles and flooded connection centers will cost the telecoms millions to repair.
Most retail operations shut down their stores as the storm approached -- but not all of them. McDonald's (NYSE: MCD ) kept many locations running well into the afternoon on Monday, perhaps making up for lost sales by being the only eatery available for a few hours. In any case, millions of households are left without power after the storm. When you can't cook on the stove, there's always a Big Mac and fries within a reasonable drive.
Insurance giant Travelers (NYSE: TRV ) is an interesting case. Shares traded down roughly 3% in the days leading up to Sandy's landfall as investors estimated the impending disaster's impact on the insurance industry. Early estimates place insured losses between $4.5 billion and $10 billion, but analysts don't see any material impact on insurers beyond perhaps a quarter of reduced earnings. So Travelers may rise on Wednesday, sighing with relief.
All told, one of the largest business centers in the nation -- nay, the world -- was knocked offline for two days but seems poised to bounce back. In the end, I expect the Dow to rise when the markets open. Sandy hurt, but she could have done worse.
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