NEW YORK -- Trading volume is expected to surge when U.S. financial markets reopen Wednesday, two days after Superstorm Sandy prompted an unexpected shutdown on Wall Street.
Throughout much of the month, an average of 3.5 billion shares have been exchanging hands each day, but experts say that could double on Wednesday.
"It's hard to say which direction stocks will move, but we're expecting to see a whole lot of trading volume -- three days worth of trading all in one," said Fred Dickson, chief market strategist at D.A. Davidson & Co.
Wednesday will be particularly busy for investors since it also happens to be the last day of the month, a time when traders, hedge funds and mutual funds often square up their positions.
And for some, the day also marks the last day of the fiscal year. It's a day when many mutual fund managers will try to offset their capital gains with their losses to minimize the distributions paid out to shareholders, said Dickson.
Home improvement stocks like Home Depot and Lowe's will likely be big movers, as well as insurance stocks, such as Allstate, AIG and Hartford Financial. Retailers, airlines and hotels that have been affected by the storm will also be in focus.
Wednesday also marks the first day investors have to react to non-storm related news.
Apple kicked off the week with a management shake-up, announcing that two of its top executives had been shown the door. Scott Forstall -- responsible for the iOS software running iPhones and iPads, and often considered an heir-in-waiting to CEO Tim Cook -- is the most prominent executive departing Apple.
Late Tuesday, the Walt Disney Company agreed to buy Lucasfilm in a stock-and-cash deal valued at $4 billion, gaining control of the blockbuster Star Wars franchise.
Also, many Facebook employees will finally get a chance to sell their shares for the first time, after a lock-up on their so called "restricted stock units" expired. With the market finally open, a total of 234 million Faebook shares will be newly eligible for sale Wednesday.
The storm also prompted many companies to postpone their quarterly earnings reports, but others, including Ford, Archer Daniels Midland and TD Ameritrade Holding Corp still issued their results so those stocks may be active Wednesday.
Hertz, Mastercard, Visa, First Solar and Metlife are among the firms on tap to post results Wednesday.
While investors will have quite a bit of corporate news to get through, economic data that has come out over the last two days in the United States or abroad hasn't been "earth-shattering," said Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel.
But investors will also be gearing up for the crucial October jobs report, which is scheduled to come out Friday. It will be the final reading on the health of the job market before the presidential election next week. While there has been some concern about the report being delayed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says it is working hard to stay on schedule.