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Mood on Wall Street is Nervous, Watchful, But No Panic in Sight With AM-Stock Market

April 4, 1994

NEW YORK (AP) _ Taking short breaks from the activity on the floor, stock traders and runners used words like ″nervous,″ ″jittery″ and ″watchful″ to describe Monday’s mood at the New York Stock Exchange.

Most of those questioned at random saw no impending calamity despite a new selling jag that developed in morning trading, continuing the heavy selloffs of the last two weeks.

Some analysts say the decline could signal the start of a new bear market, but in a sampling of views, market workers said there was little comparison with the mood on Oct. 19, 1987, when the Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 500 points.

″Things are a little tentative. They don’t know how much further down the market might be going,″ said Craig Torswich, 38, a specialist clerk for Webcor Securities Inc., enjoying a few minutes of early spring sunshine.

Torswich, a 14-year veteran who witnessed the 1987 crash, said Monday lacked ″the same nervous tension all over the floor″ as was apparent that day, because of the circuit breakers, or trading restrictions, that the market instituted afterward.

On his first day on the job, Tad Maloney, 25, a runner for Brill Securities, said he thought the mood was ″extremely nervous.″

″All the guys down here are trying to get a feel for what’s going on upstairs,″ he said. ″It’s very hesitant - people waiting and watching. Not much happening at all.″

Paul A. Redmond, an independent broker, said the floor mood was ″pretty quiet,″ with many traders holding back to see what happens. ″People will probably sit here until they get some confidence to invest again, take some time off, stay on the sidelines and watch.″

He said that while there were no real signs of incipient panic, ″everybody’s watching the bond market. If it gets slaughtered, then we’ll probably follow suit.″

It was also calm at the Boston Stock Exchange, a regional exchange where 90 percent of the trades are in stocks also listed on the NYSE.

Traders on the floor Monday were busily dealing with orders on computer screens. But the only sign of stress was traders taking breaks from their screens to do stretching exercises while still sitting at their work stations.

Outside the NYSE, scores of tourists waiting in line to be admitted to the visitors’ gallery, were mostly oblivious that something unusual might be taking place.

Dieter Renz, a member of a tour group from Stuttgart, Germany, said he had not heard about a possible selling spree on the market, but was delighted at the prospect of seeing frenetic activity on the floor.

″So we will have a little bit more drama. That’s what we wanted to see,″ he said.

On the corner of Wall and Broad streets, Toby Cohn, Ernestine Bonner and Sarah Wright, were spending their lunch break as they almost always do - singing gospel songs such as ″Everyone Ought to Know Who Jesus Is.″

Bonner, an administrative assistant for an insurance company who said she has been doing it for 18 years, saw a message for the worried stock traders.

″A lot of people put their trust in money, but when they can’t trust in their wealth and material things, they can look to Jesus,″ she said.

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