SEC CLOSES Wall Street

Crashes Bring Wall Street to Halt
AP Business Writer
Towers collapse

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. financial markets came to a halt Tuesday after two separate planes crashed into the World Trade Center and similar assaults occurred in Washington in what President Bush called an apparent terrorist attack.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said all exchanges had decided to close. The announcement followed a suspension of trading on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Stock Market. The American Stock Exchange had already decided to close for the day.

``As a safety precaution while the tragic events of today are sorted out, the securities markets have decided not to open for trading today,'' SEC chairman Harvey Pitt said in a statement. ``We strongly support that decision.''

It was unclear when trading would resume. Many of the nation's investment firms have at least some of their operations in the World Trade Center or surrounding buildings, possibily limiting their ability to restart quickly. And the New York Mercantile Exchange, where energy futures are traded, is located in the nearby World Financial Center.

The reports of the Tuesday morning attacks on the State Department and on the Pentagon in Washington and the collapse of both of the World Trade Center skyscrapers added to the paralysis and terror already engulfing the financial district.

``The two explosions were incredible and at the point of explosions all you could see outside were personal belongings and office supplies raining outside,'' said Bob Rendine, an American Stock Exchange spokesman, whose office is down the block from the NYSE. ``We're staying here. We think it's safer to stay inside then go outside at this point.''

Much of the downtown district, including the World Trade Center and the World Financial Center, was evacuated. It was also difficult to make phone calls to the downtown business district and throughout Manhattan.

Thousands of companies sent their employees home for the day, putting tens of thousands thousands of New Yorkers into the streets after public transportation was shut down as a precautions against further attacks.

Business and trading in other parts of the country also were affected. The Chicago Board of Trade also suspended all trading effective, 10:15 a.m.

Overseas, the London Stock Exchange evacuated its building but said trade will continue from an alternate site. The Toronto Stock Exchange ended its trading in mid-morning.

Around the country and world, the investment community was focused on the fate of people working in the World Trade Center affected by the apparent terrorist attacks. There were reports of people jumping out of buildings.

``I'm just worried about people who are there,'' said Robert Harrington, head of listed block trading at UBS Warburg's office in Connecticut.

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