Stocks rose initially as a traders got back to work following the exchange's first weather-related closure since 1888. But amid light trading volumes the rally had lost its momentum before lunch and ended the day flat at 13.096, down about 10 points (0.08%).
Bloomberg's appearance, taking time away from a heavy schedule in the wake of Sandy, showed how important the opening of the exchange is to the city. But some veteran Wall Streeters remained nonplussed.
Asked by financial news channel CNBC how important it was that the exchange had opened again, Jack Bogle, chairman and founder of Vanguard Group, said: "Well, I wouldn't put it high on my priority list. You know ,we've now gone four consecutive days without any trading and the sun still came up this morning."
"If it had gone on a few more days, it wouldn't have bothered me," said Bogle.
New York's exchanges have been closed during earnings season and some big news from some of the US's largest companies. Apple jettisoned two key executives this week and it closed down $8.74 at $595.26 (down 1.45%). Ford closed at $11.16, up 8.24% as investors took in better-than-expected car sales and higher profit margins.
Shares in companies expected to benefit from rebuilding rose including Home Depot and Caterpillar. Insurance companies dipped as investors started to calculate their share of the eventual cost of the massive cleanup.
As trading resumes there looks likely to be a battle between the exchanges and their clients. The NYSE has originally planned to keep trading electronically even as it prepared to close Wall Street's trading floors. But banks and brokerages complained that the plan was too complex and would entail sending staff into work as the storm approached.
Christopher Nagy, an exchange and trading-firm consultant who formerly sat on the board of the Philadelphia stock exchange, said: "The closure was an example of the complete and utter failure of NYSE to put a proper plan in place."
He said Sandy was the first real test of NYSE's emergency plans since 9/11, and that the decision to halt all trading rather than to move to all electronic trading looked more political than practical. "The NYSE only processes 11-12% of the total market share that trades," he said.
"It's a glorified TV studio," he said.
Jamie Selway, managing director at ITG, a brokerage firm, who participated in many of the industry calls ahead of the storm, said it was clear that people were now looking to assign blame.
"But to me that is secondary," he said. "Given the loss of life and that an eighth of Manhattan is underwater, a two-day closing is not a bad trade-off."
"There is no question we absolutely have to refine the plan for next time," he said.
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