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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on March 17 in New York City.

US to keep markets open, considers shorter trading hours

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on March 17 in New York City.

The Trump administration plans to keep US stock markets open despite volatility, though trading hours may be shortened, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin

“We absolutely believe in keeping the markets open,” Mnuchin said at a Tuesday news conference at the White House. “Americans need to know they have access to their money.”

Mnuchin said he has spoken to banks and the New York Stock Exchange, and they agree on the need to keep markets operating.

“Closing the markets would not change the underlying causes of the market decline, would remove transparency into investor sentiment, and reduce investors’ access to their money.”

– President of the New York Stock Exchange, Stacey Cunningham

There have been questions about whether stock exchanges will remain open amid concerns about the spreading coronavirus.

US equity exchanges plunged at the opening bell on Monday, triggering circuit breakers that halted trading across stock markets and signalling another bruising week for companies and investors.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in US on February 26.

Jim Toes, chief executive officer of the Security Traders Association, an industry group, said markets need to remain open to “deal with the economy.”

“They can’t close the markets,” Toes said. “They’re functioning, they’re working. Unless something breaks, why?”

US Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton said Monday that stock markets should continue to operate.

Clayton said the current environment differs from previous market shocks, such as the 2008 credit crisis or the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, partly because of steps that have been taken to bolster the financial industry since then.

“I think our banks are in a much stronger position today than they were then,” Clayton said on CNBC. “This is a demand and supply shock,” he said, adding that he’s concerned businesses might not have access to all the credit they need.

Closing markets would create more market anxiety, said Stacey Cunningham, president of the New York Stock Exchange, in a tweet on Monday.

“Closing the markets would not change the underlying causes of the market decline, would remove transparency into investor sentiment, and reduce investors’ access to their money,” she wrote.