U.S. stock markets were closed Monday and agreed to stay closed Tuesday as Wall Street braced for Sandy to strike the East Coast. Bond markets will also be closed.

The last time the New York Stock Exchange had an unplanned closing was after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

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Much of the East Coast was at a standstill as the storm approached. New York City's mass transit system was closed down, and areas around the Financial District in lower Manhattan were part of a mandatory evacuation zone.

This is the first time in 124 years that weather has caused a two-day shutdown of the exchange. The last cause was the Blizzard of 1888, which left drifts as high as 40 feet in the streets of New York City.

There had been plans to allow electronic trading Monday on the NYSE, but with mass transit shut down in and out of Manhattan, the risks were determined to be too great. "My bias is always to keep the markets open, but this was a pretty easy decision," Duncan Niederauer, chief executive of parent company NYSE Euronext, said on CNBC.

The Nasdaq was also closed.

The uncertainty generated by the storm comes at the start of a big week in the United States. This is the last full week before next Tuesday's presidential election and culminates Friday with the release of monthly jobs data, which many analysts think could have an impact on the vote. -- AP