NYSE shutting trading floor but electronic exchange remains open

©Agence France-Presse

Traders at the New York Stock Exchange, which announced all activity will be shifted to electronic platforms starting Monday due to the coronavirus

New York (AFP) - The New York Stock Exchange will halt activity on its iconic trading floor due to the coronavirus but remain open for electronic trading, the company's owner said Wednesday.

The move, which takes effect on Monday, is a "precautionary step to protect the health and well-being of employees and the floor community in response to COVID-19," NYSE owner Intercontinental Exchange said.

Exchange officials have argued strongly against halting trading entirely despite sharp drops in the market, and in their statement said the closure will not impair the market's ability to function.

While it accounts for an increasingly small share of transactions due to the rise of online trading platforms, the physical trading floor has facilitated some buy and sell actions and also provides a high-profile venue for companies during the ceremonial ringing of the opening and closing bell.

"NYSE's trading floors provide unique value to issuers and investors, but our markets are fully capable of operating in an all-electronic fashion to serve all participants, and we will proceed in that manner until we can re-open our trading floors to our members," NYSE President Stacey Cunningham said.

"While we are taking the precautionary step of closing the trading floors, we continue to firmly believe the markets should remain open and accessible to investors. All NYSE markets will continue to operate under normal trading hours despite the closure of the trading floors."

Cunningham told CNBC the move was taken after the exchange learned of a person who works at the exchange who had tested positive for coronavirus.