Oct. 31 - Summary of business headlines: Wall Street reopens after Sandy shut down but stocks end mostly lower; Netflix shares surge on Icahn buy; General Motors earnings hit the fast lane. Conway G. Gittens reports.
It was business as usual on Wall Street as the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and other equity exchanges resumed trading after super storm Sandy shut operations for two days. Stocks drifted lower after a positive start but finished close to the where they started in a light volume day. For the month, the Dow shed 2-1/2 percent, while the Nasdaq was off 4-1/2 percent. A power outage hit Knight Capital Group, forcing the brokerage to send customers away for the second time in three months. But the exchanges as a whole seemed to take the re-opening in stride. The money lost in the past two days will not be made up says, Richard Repetto of Sandler O'Neill. SOUNDBITE: RICHARD REPETTO, PRINCIPAL, SANDLER O'NEILL (ENGLISH) SAYING: "So we found that for each exchange, both the NYSE and for NASDAQ, here was just a little over a million dollars, $1.1, $1.2 million. So it wasn't a lot of money. Now this is including options as well, equity and options trading. And it was probably about half a cent in EPS." Looking at the market reaction: shares of NYSE Euronext were down slightly but Nasdaq OMX and Knight Capital were slightly higher. Some investors may have decided to count the cost of damage to their property after Sandy swept through the East Coast, adding to the light volume session. Tom Larsen of Eqecat says total economic damages could top his initial $20 billion estimate. SOUNDBITE: TOM LARSEN, VP, EQECAT (ENGLISH) SAYING: "It's certainly one of the strongest in the last few years, what we've seen. Hurricane Ike in 2008 was about $12 billion in insured losses. Hurricane Irene from last year was in the order of $6 billion, so these are a lot more severe and certainly the damage is far more widespread, infecting almost 50 million people were affected by this event." A quick look at company specific news.... Shares of Netflix surged about 14 percent after billionaire investor Carl Icahn revealed a nearly 10-percent stake in the video rental and download company. And strong U.S. sales helped General Motors post much higher-than-expected quarterly results. Finally, European shares were down without much to give them a lift.