Hurricane Sandy is fast going up the East Coast region of our country, including New York City, as we write this, and the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ will be closed today, as a result, with no trading taking place--even electronically. Last evening, there had been some hope that electronic trading would go on, but that expectation has now been shelved. This is the first weather-related closure of the NYSE since Hurricane Gloria struck the East Coast back in 1985. At this juncture, there is no sense of whether the exchanges will open for trading tomorrow, and for how much of the day they might open, if they do. For now, the equity futures, which also will be shutting down, are signaling that it would have been a weak opening today under normal circumstances, as the Standard and Poor's 500 Index futures are off by more than nine points and the NASDAQ futures are in the red by 22 points.

Meantime, international markets are falling today, as economic growth fears mount around the globe. Commodity prices also are weak this morning. The recent run of uninspiring U.S. earnings news has cast a pall over the international markets, as some fear that such dour reports are indicative of weakening economic metrics down the road. We shall see if there is such a correlation developing. In recent weeks, the economic news has been somewhat better, which has helped to slightly counter the disappointing profit news. 

As for today, such business concerns drove shares in Asia lower overnight, while this morning, rather steep selloffs are being seen in London's FTSE 100, the Frankfurt DAX, and the Paris CAC-40. Each is off between 0.50% and 0.80% so far today. 

As for the week ahead, once trading does resume, we are scheduled to get the monthly survey from the Conference Board on Consumer Confidence tomorrow morning. Then, on Wednesday, we are due to get data on private sector payrolls from ADP (ADP) and data on manufacturing in the greater Chicago area. That will be followed on Thursday by the monthly survey on manufacturing provided by the Institute for Supply Management. Also that day, data on productivity, chain store volume, vehicle sales, and weekly jobless claims will be released. Finally, Friday will bring the closely watched report on U.S. employment and unemployment. That will be the final report on this politically sensitive metric before the Presidential Election on Tuesday November 6th.

As for reports issued so far, at 8:30 (EDT) this morning, the Commerce Department just released reports on personal income and consumer spending. Both metrics saw healthy increases, with income up 0.4% in September, which was in line with expectations, while personal consumption expenditures gained 0.8%--two tenths of a percentage point better than forecast.  

Meanwhile, we wish all of our readers and all residents along the East Coast of our country a safe several days, as this latest natural disaster hopefully passes with fewer upheavals than many now fear.

At the time of this article's writing, the author did not have positions in any of the companies mentioned.