Major exchange operators NYSE Euronext (NYX) and Nasdaq OMX (NDAQ) said Tuesday they were preparing to resume operations. The exchanges were spending the bulk of the day conducting tests with member firms to ensure all systems were running smoothly.
NYSE spokesman Ray Pellechia said the NYSE wanted to make sure its electronic exchange, NYSE Arca, would be able to take the lead "in the remote chance we can't re-activate NYSE tomorrow."
NYSE Arca trades more than 8,000 securities, including those listed on Nasdaq.
Pellechia also reiterated that the NYSE's building, trading floor and systems did not suffer any damage from Sandy.
Bond trading was closed Tuesday but the CME Group (CME) kept U.S. stock futures trading open both Monday and Tuesday.
NYSE rarely shuts down for weather-related emergencies: Hurricane Gloria in 1985 and a snowstorm in 1969 were the last major weather events to bring the exchange to a halt. In fact, the last time the market was closed for two consecutive weather-related days was more than a century ago, when the New York Stock Exchange kept its doors shut as the city coped with the Blizzard of 1888.
The last unscheduled shutdown was in September 2001, when markets were closed for four full trading days following the Sept. 11 attacks. And on January 2, 2007, the entire market was closed in accordance with the country's national day of mourning in memory of President Gerald Ford, who had died a week earlier.
Market operators and regulators try to avoid prolonged market closures to limit volatility.
Getting markets open is a priority for the exchanges. But it is even more crucial since Wednesday is the last day of the month, a time when traders, hedge funds and mutual funds often square up their positions.
The Dow Jones industrial average, Nasdaq and S&P 500 are on track to end October with declines of 2% to 4%.
It's been a rough month on Wall Street. There have been wild swings mixed with days when stocks barely budged as investors became increasingly unwilling to place any big bets ahead of the presidential election and amid concerns about the upcoming fiscal cliff. Less-than-stellar quarterly earnings reports didn't help matters.