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Wall Street trading comes to complete stop on busiest day

October 28, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ Traders cheered this morning as the Dow industrials bounced back from their biggest-ever drop after a dizzying first hour of trading.

Trading opened at 9:30 a.m. much like any other day on the exchange, with traders bustling and a steady din rising from the floor. But enthusiasm built as the Dow moved higher, and a cheer rose even before the blue-chip average crossed into positive territory.

On Monday, the busiest day ever on the NYSE, mandatory pauses designed to let calm heads prevail kicked in twice, eventually cutting short the trading day, as the Dow fell 554 points.

As hoards of media gathered outside the exchange this morning, most traders refused to comment. But Michael Galluchi, who works for the trading firm LaBranche & Co., was smiling after sharing a joke with a colleague.

``I’m smiling because I still have a job,″ Galluchi said.

Visitors also flocked to the exchange. Among the dozens waiting on line to get in before the opening bell were Nicola and Harold Schlicht, honeymooners from Oldenburg, Germany.

They said they tried to visit Monday after hearing about the drop while riding the ferry back from Ellis Island, but reached Wall Street too late.

``We have some stocks in Germany. If bad things happen here, it happens to us, too,″ Harold Schlicht said.

Others were looking forward to the excitement _ whether the news proved good or bad.

``We are quite lucky,″ said Christiane Pogu, a tourist from Grenoble, France.

This morning’s rally seemed to reverse what Monday’s trading halts _ designed to stop panic selling _ could not.

When the first bell halting trading sounded at 2:35 p.m., the usual sports arena-level clamor fell almost silent, with many traders simply wandering off the floor. They used the break to smoke, talk, eat and relax. Asked what was happening, they avoided the word ``panic.″

When trading began again at 3:05 p.m., it took just 25 minutes for the Dow to lose an additional 200 points and trigger a one-hour halt. With the regular closing bell just 30 minutes away, the day was done.

Because it takes a few minutes for the circuit-breaker to take effect, trading didn’t actually stop until the Dow had dropped by more than 354 and 554, respectively.

The last time trading was halted on the NYSE was a 24-minute pause during a 1981 power failure. Before that, trading was halted for the 1981 assassination attempt on President Reagan and the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy, according to NYSE President Bill Johnston.

``If it had been as big a percentage drop (as the 1987 crash), people would have run out of here screaming,″ the 24-year-old trader said. ``I was pretty active most of the day, but I wasn’t overwhelmed.″

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