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Much of Boston’s financial hub closed amid lockdown

Federal Street in the Financial District was empty at 3:20 pm.

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Federal Street in the Financial District was empty at 3:20 pm.

Stocks were down slightly in the first hour of trading Friday, as Wall Street saw Boston in lockdown and most of the city’s financial hub closed, with employees working from home and skeletal staffs at the office.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down about 52 points, to 14,485.45 by mid-morning. Major money management firms like Fidelity Investments and State Street Corp. told thousands of employees to stay home, as buildings across the city and in Cambridge were closed and public transportation was shut down.

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Financial headlines for news-hungry traders in New York and around the world led with the manhunt in Boston for the marathon bombers. Shawn Kravetz, a Boston hedge fund manager working from home because the International Place office building downtown was closed, said he had received a flood of e-mails by early morning.

“I had countless e-mails from institutional brokers, from research analysts around the country, just checking in,’’ Kravetz said. “They said, ‘tell us how we can help.’ The world is paying attention today.”

Investment firms managing billions of dollars said they had contingency plans in place, with fund managers able to work from home and trading shifted to other sites. However some employees who drove in were likely already at work before authorities ordered residents of the Boston area to stay home.

One intrepid financial worker biked from home in the Fenway to his office downtown, only to be turned away by a security guard. Harris Bradley, 25, was trying to push his way into the revolving doors at 75-101 Federal St. this morning when a guard shouted to him that the building was closed.

“Financial markets don’t close just because there’s a crazy guy out there,” Bradley said.

Indeed, State Street executives released their quarterly earnings as planned Friday morning and held a long conference call with Wall Street analysts.

At Eaton Vance Corp., a downtown investment firm, a number of traders and fund managers were at their office, spokeswoman Robyn Tice said; other employees worked from home. Tice herself was at home in Belmont, where authorities have been telling residents to stay inside with doors locked since very early morning.

At Fidelity, spokesman Vincent Loporchio said most Boston employees were working remotely. Those who did go into the office were told not to leave the building, so they would be safe, he said. “Regarding our operations, Fidelity has business contingency plans in place that enable us to continue to service our customers.”

Banks, too, were mostly closed in the Boston area, with branches shuttered and the downtown offices of Bank of America and other major institutions closed. At the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, most of its 1,000 employees were working from home.

Employees of MFS Investment Management, a major Back Bay mutual fund firm based at the 111 Huntington tower, received automated e-mails and messages on their phones early in the morning that they should work from home. The firm’s crisis management team had a conference call between 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. and made the decision then, spokesman John Reilly said. A small number of traders and investment managers were already at work by then.

Boston-based Putnam Investments also had most of its employees working from home, as well as its Andover location. “This is obviously a very peculiar and unsettling day for Boston,’’ spokesman Jon Goldstein said. “We expect our operations to continue, hopefully without missing a hitch.”

Beth Healy can be reached at bhealy@globe.com.
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