U.S. stock-index futures fell as Hurricane Sandy headed toward the East Coast, preventing equity markets from opening, Bloomberg reported.
Travelers Cos., the only insurer in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, dropped 1.6%. Allstate Corp. ( ALL ), the largest publicly traded U.S. home and auto insurer, slid 0.6% in German trading.
Futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index ( SPX ) expiring in December retreated 0.6% to 1,398.6 at 8.41 a.m. in New York. Dow futures dropped 90 points, or 0.7%, to 12,964.
The U.S. securities industry canceled equity trading on all markets today, moving to protect workers, as Sandy approached New York City with wind speeds up to 85 miles (140 kilometers) per hour and the threat of an 11-foot (3 meter) sea surge. CME Group Inc. ( CME ) said it will halt stock-index futures and options at 9.15 a.m. New York time.
The trading shutdown, announced by the Securities and Exchange Commission, may extend through to tomorrow. The last time the New York Stock Exchange cut trading hours for weather was on Jan. 8, 1996, when a blizzard dropped more than 20 inches on New York City.
Markets have not closed for four days in a row since the start of 2007 when, following a weekend and the New Year's Day holiday on a Monday, they shut on Jan. 2 to observe a day of mourning for President Gerald Ford's death the previous week.