New York Stock Exchange | opening and closing bells

Opening and closing bells

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Donald L. Evans rings the 'opening bell' at the NYSE on April 23, 2003. Former chairman Jack Womack is also in this picture.
NASA astronauts Scott Altman and Mike Massimino ring the 'closing bell'.

The NYSE's opening and closing bells mark the beginning and the end of each trading day. The 'opening bell' is rung at 9:30 am ET to mark the start of the day's trading session. At 4 pm ET the 'closing bell' is rung and trading for the day stops. There are bells located in each of the four main sections of the NYSE that all ring at the same time once a button is pressed.[66] There are three buttons that control the bells, located on the control panel behind the podium which overlooks the trading floor. The main bell, which is rung at the beginning and end of the trading day, is controlled by a green button. The second button, colored orange, activates a single-stroke bell that is used to signal a moment of silence. A third, red button controls a backup bell which is used in case the main bell fails to ring.[67]


The signal to start and stop trading was not always a bell. The original signal was a gavel (which is still in use today along with the bell), but during the late 1800s, the NYSE decided to switch the gavel for a gong to signal the day's beginning and end. After the NYSE changed to its present location at 18 Broad Street in 1903, the gong was switched to the bell format that is currently being used.

A common sight today is the highly publicized events in which a celebrity or executive from a corporation stands behind the NYSE podium and pushes the button that signals the bells to ring. Due to the amount of coverage that the opening/closing bells receive, many companies coordinate new product launches and other marketing-related events to start on the same day as when the company's representatives ring the bell. It was only in 1995 that the NYSE began having special guests ring the bells on a regular basis; prior to that, ringing the bells was usually the responsibility of the exchange's floor managers.[66]

Notable bell-ringers

Many of the people who ring the bell are business executives whose companies trade on the exchange. However, there have also been many famous people from outside the world of business that have rung the bell. Athletes such as Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees and Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps, entertainers such as rapper Snoop Dogg, members of ESPN’s College GameDay crew, singer and actress Liza Minnelli[68] and members of the band Kiss, and politicians such as Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani and President of South Africa Nelson Mandela have all had the honor of ringing the bell. Two United Nations Secretaries General have also rung the bell. On April 27, 2006, Secretary-General Kofi Annan rang the opening bell to launch the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment.[69] On July 24, 2013, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon rang the closing bell to celebrate the NYSE joining the United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative.[70]

In addition there have been many bell-ringers who are famous for heroic deeds, such as members of the New York police and fire departments following the events of 9/11, members of the United States Armed Forces serving overseas, and participants in various charitable organizations.

There have also been several fictional characters that have rung the bell, including Mickey Mouse, the Pink Panther, Mr. Potato Head, the Aflac Duck, and Darth Vader.[71]

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