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US stocks open higher as NYSE trading floor reopens

By AFP - May 26,2020 - Last updated at May 26,2020

Peter Tuchman, floor trader, reacts as he works on the floor during the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange on March 9, in New York (AFP photo)

NEW YORK — Wall Street stocks surged on Tuesday on optimism about coronavirus vaccines as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) resumed physical floor trading for the first time since late March.

About 30 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 2.4 per cent at 25,038.94.

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 1.7 per cent to 3,007.76, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 1.2 per cent to 9,434.99.

Analysts pointed to announcements by a number of companies pursuing vaccines for coronavirus, including Merck, which said it would acquire privately-held vaccine company Themis and disclosed new research ventures with other companies.

The gains came after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, wearing a mask, rang the opening bell to signal the start of the day for traders, also clad in masks and separated by plexiglas.

The NYSE, which closed on March 23 as coronavirus cases were soaring in New York, is ramping up slowly with only a fraction of the normal trading staff. 

Traders are required to wear masks and have their temperatures taken and must respect social distancing rules.

While many transactions now are executed through computers -- enabling the market to function even when physical trade was halted -- NYSE leaders say maintaining physical trading facilitates buy and sell orders particularly in the final moments of the day, or during first trades of a new company following an initial public offering.

The floor also has ceremonial benefit for companies to market IPOs and other corporate initiatives.

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