May 26 (UPI) -- The New York Stock Exchange floor reopened Tuesday after two months of being closed as U.S stocks surged behind positive news surrounding potential COVID-19 vaccines.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 529.95 points, or 2.17 percent, influenced at least partly by news of further advances in developing a coronavirus vaccine from U.S. firms Merck and Novavax.
The S&P 500 gained 1.23 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.17 percent.
The Dow was flat on Friday but gained more than 3 percent for the week for its best weekly showing since early April. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq had also gained 3 percent for the week.
Shares tied closely to the reopening of businesses and return to regular travel benefited greatly on Tuesday as United Airlines stock soared 16.30 percent, Southwest airlines stock increased 12.64 percent, Carnival stock gained 12.59 percent and MGM Resorts stock grew 10.90 percent.
Bank stocks also got a boost Tuesday, as Citigroup rose 9.15 percent, Wells Fargo increased 8.65 percent and JPMorgan Chase grew 7.06 percent.
Eighty floor brokers were allowed on the floor Tuesday, about 25 percent of what the NYSE had permitted before the stock exchange closed to in-person trading on March 23. The NYSE had operated entirely electronically, for the first time in its history, since the closure.
"We need to get America restarted and New York restarted," Stacey Cunningham, president of the stock exchange, said."[Closing] was a hard decision to make, even though I knew it was the right one to make. I knew at the time and said at the time we will reopen and we will come back from this."
Brokers had their temperatures taken before entering the building and had to sign a legal document stating they understood the risk of trading on the floor. The NYSE also barred anyone from entering who used public transportation.
"We have been waiting a long time, we are prepared," said Jonathan Corpina, a floor trader with Meridian Equity Partners. "For 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy, it was only a few days. This is different. We haven't been on the floor for over two months, the procedure on opening and closing will not be the norm, and only part of the staff is going to be in.
"It's a new world, but in a short period of time I think we can figure out how to operate."