Back Trading after Th Terror; the Financial Heart of America Was Ripped out This Day Last Week as Terrorists Attacked the World Trade Centre in New York - the Symbol of US Economic Might - and the Pentagon in Washington, DC - Nerve Centre of US Defence. Economic Repercussions Will Be Felt in Every Corner of the Globe, Including Northern Ireland. ADRIENNE McGILL Reports

Article excerpt


WALL Street reopened yesterday for the first time since the terror attacks, with share prices sliding in early trading.

The New York Stock Exchange, which has been closed for four days - the longest time in recent history - slid more than 100 points in the first few minutes of trading to below 9,500.

Traders had expected the market to initially open down, but hoped for a later rally in shares.

In London, the FTSE 100 Index, which had been trading up just ahead of the opening, slipped 2.1 points to 4753.6.

The opening followed a two-minute silence where traders paused to remember the thousands of dead and injured in last week's brutal terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, in New York, and the Pentagon, in Washington.

Following the ringing of the opening bell by Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, trading began at just after 2.30pm UK time.

The opening also came an hour after the US's Federal Reserve moved to buoy confidence by cutting a half-point from interest rates.

Interest rates in the US have already been cut seven times this year, taking them down to 3.5 per cent, and today's cut takes them to 3 per cent.

In a statement, the Fed also said it would continue to supply ``unusually large volumes of liquidity to the financial markets, as needed, until more normal market functioning is restored''.

It added: ``Even before the tragic events of last week, employment, production, and business spending remained weak, and last week's events have the potential to damp spending further.

"Nonetheless, the long-term prospects for productivity growth and the economy remain favourable and should become evident once the unusual forces restraining demand abate.

"For the foreseeable future, the committee continues to believe that against the background of its long-run goals of price stability and sustainable economic growth and of the information currently available, the risks are weighted mainly toward conditions that may generate economic weakness.''

Analysts said the Fed's move would persuade traders that it was poised to act to support the economy and the financial systems.

One senior banker said: ``This is exactly what the markets needed. We doubt whether it is sufficient to give the short term rise people were hoping for but over the next week this sort of action is certainly likely to give markets confidence that everything possible is being done.

"It also puts pressure on the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee to cut domestic rates.''

However, there are some hopes among traders that the US markets will stage a patriotic rally in defiance of the attacks.

Powerful symbol of American prosperity reduced to rubble

FOR three decades the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center stood as the symbol of American economic might, as powerful an icon for capitalism as the Statue of Liberty is for freedom.

The two 110-story buildings defined the Manhattan skyline at the turn of the millennium the way the Empire State Building did in an earlier era. But their presence was more than symbolic.

The complex was a city within a city, with 50,000 workers and 150,000 others passing through on a typical workday. It represented one-tenth of all office space in Lower Manhattan.

Scores of corporations had offices there, including financial services giant Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co, the biggest single tenant, with one-eighth of the space in the south tower.

The complex was a major home to the insurance companies Empire HealthChoice Inc, and Marsh USA Inc, the law offices of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood, and Cantor Fitzgerald Securities, which may have lost around 700 of its employees.

It was also a top tourist draw, with observation decks, a simulated helicopter tour of Manhattan and a famous restaurant, Windows on the World. …