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U.S. finance industry says markets must stay open during epidemic

LONDON (Reuters) – Keeping U.S. markets open during the coronavirus epidemic is critical for maintaining investor confidence, exchanges and market industry bodies said in a joint statement on Friday.

Signatories to the statement included the American Bankers Association, CBOE, Nasdaq, CME, the Institute of International Finance and the International Swaps and Derivatives Association.

“Keeping all U.S. financial markets open is essential to the well-being of the general economy and vital to maintaining and bolstering investor confidence, particularly once the economy recovers from the effects of this pandemic,” the statement said.

The statement was not signed by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) where trading has been halted several times for a few minutes due to extreme price moves.

Top NYSE officials have said the Big Board will continue to work under normal hours electronically despite shutting its trading floor, where dealers operate shoulder-to-shoulder and risk infection from coronavirus.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has suggested a shorter trading day may be needed given the extreme volatility in markets as investors dump shares in the face of an economic downturn due to coronavirus.

“Even persistent rumors about closing the markets are themselves causing adverse effects. Market participants are taking steps, which they otherwise would not, to mitigate against a market closure,” the signatories said in a separate letter to Mnuchin, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Other signatories are the Managed Funds Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, American Cotton Shippers Association, Bank Policy Institute, Commodity Markets Council, FIA, Financial Services Forum, Investment Company Institute, Alternative Investment Management Association and the World Federation of Exchanges.

Earlier this week, the Federation of European Securities Exchanges also said markets should stay open.

Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said on Thursday markets had bordered on being disorderly but should remain open.

(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Mark Potter)

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