For some reason Fox Business allowed me to tag along with Nicole Petallides, their New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) floor correspondent, during trading hours yesterday. I was definitely as surprised as you are as to why they would let some punk blogger get all up in their grill. But I immediately called ‘No Takebacks’, so it was a done deal.

If you had the chance to spend some time with one of the major business network’s floor correspondents, who would be your top pick? CNBC’s correspondent, Bob Pisani? Get real. Nicole is where it’s at.

Obviously, over the past couple of weeks, there has been much to report on down on Wall Street. I caught up with Nicole for a brief 30 minutes in-between two of her live-on-the-air reports.

Here’s a look at Fox Business’ HQ down on the exchange floor (and more photos after the jump):

The purple motif exudes a sense of royalty. And reminds me of Prince.

Fox Business — where three phones are never enough!

The booth is set up with a live-ready camera permanently mounted pointing at Nicole’s reporting spot. There’s also a small flat screen TV monitor showing what’s currently airing on FBN at that moment. In addition to that, Nicole is easily contacted via her cell phone and checks research reports sent to her on her laptop. But that’s only half the battle. A lot of Nicole’s day involves keeping up with all the trader chat on the floor.

On this particular day, Nicole was up at 4 AM preparing to anchor Fox Business’ morning news show. Following that she reported to her booth and hunkered down for a day full of hourly live reports.
Interesting factoid that Fox Business loves to bring up – they are the only network located literally on the floor of the exchange. Compared to the glass booths looming high above inhabited by Mark Haines and Erin Burnett on Squawk Box, FBN has a little cubby-hole style pit right in the thick of the action.

It appears to really work to their advantage because it gives Nicole easy access to her source material. She’s even bold enough to steal a chair from a nearby trading booth if she wants. In addition to the exchange floor tradition of a ‘mandated jacket’ dress code, I also think it’s forbidden to say ‘No’ to a girl who steals your chair.

Vanity Fair released an article recently from its November issue called “Who Is Wall Street’s Queen B.?” The piece profiled the always-entertaining ‘fake feud’ between CNBC’s money honeys Erin Burnett and Maria Bartiromo. However, the article also served as a major hit piece against Fox Business. A few disparaging mentions of FBN cast them as skimpy-dressing-ditzes, an image Maria Bartiromo expressed she was none too happy to witness.

When asked about the VF article, Nicole acknowledged that she did read it, but put on her serious reporter face and said ‘no comment’, ending any further discussion. However, given Nicole’s extensive background on the exchange (she has over 10 years experience down there, working previously with WPIX Channel 11 News, Bloomberg TV, CNBC and Dow Jones’ Wall Street Journal Report) and her presence on the floor, you’d be kind of disappointed in making that assumption about her.

For one thing, all the traders love and respect her. On a brief jaunt around the trading windows, Nicole was constantly barraged by her trader sources running up to her with ‘interesting trends’ they noticed in the market during the last few hours leading up to the repeal of the short-selling ban. Everyone seemed pretty excited to talk to her, and she would respond in kind with some critical questioning.

They were even excited to show off the most recent issue of Der Spiegel magazine, a well-known German news publication, which featured a photo and caption of Nicole hard at work at the NYSE. Totally out of nowhere, I chimed in and translated the accompanying photo caption beneath her image. It was something about her being one of the fastest ‘young ones’ on the exchange floor (Who would have thought that B.A. in German would ever come in handy? Impressing biz babes, nice!)

Nicole also explained some of the pranks her and her good-time trader buddies have played over the years. Ranging from throwing baby powder on someone’s freshly shined shoes to planting perfume and lipstick all over a recently married trader’s clothing. Those hooligans, they’re incorrigible!

While I was there talking to traders at 2pm, the Dow looked like it was going to finish the day higher, putting everyone in good spirits. It had looked like the Fed and European Central Banks coordinated rate cut had done its job and helped the market to improve. However, it was a different story after I left and the market took a sharp plunge in the last hour of trading, eventually ending 189 points lower. And things don’t look like they are getting much better today.

Nicole preparing for a live-shot interview with trader Jason Weisberg:

The Opening Bell platform. Even if you ask realllllly nicely, they still won’t let you stand up there and scream ‘Sell’ at the top of their lungs. Fair enough, I suppose. :

Nicole posing in her booth with a snowglobe in hand that was a Christmas gift from the New York Stock Exchange. Aww, everyone’s just one big family down there:

The “Competition” (CNBC, Bloomberg, and CNN) high above in their ivory glass booths. I guess they aren’t really ‘ivory’ per se, more like marble and steel:

The exchange floor is a mess. I think I even saw peanut shells piled 6-inches high in a corner. What is this, the circus?

Nicole anchoring the morning news show with Jenna Lee on the network’s first day back on October 15, 2007: