NEW YORK, OCT. 20 -- Thirty minutes before the stock market closed this afternoon, Edward T. Dunne, first vice president of UBS Securities Inc., stood at the far end of his firm's boisterous Park Avenue trading room and smiled.

"The world didn't come to an end today," he said.

On Wall Street's day after, that was enough for many of the investors and traders who were battered and impoverished by Monday's market crash.

In the financial district's trading rooms today, the panic faded, replaced not so much by hope as by exhaustion.

"I think people have calmed down a little bit," Alan C. Greenberg, chief executive of Bear, Stearns & Co., said this morning as he surveyed his firm's trading room from behind his desk.

"You saw some friends get wiped out {on Monday}. That's never pleasant. You saw a lot of blood."

And in the carnage, there was a chance for some to expand. Greenberg said that when a market specialist on the American Stock Exchange "threw in the towel" Monday, Bear Stearns stepped in to purchase the firm and absorb its employes.

A spokeswoman for the Amex today identified the failed specialist as M. Frank & Co.

"We're going to use {the crash} as an opportunity," Greenberg said.

"It's a crazy business. People have very short memories. ... In our business, the inventory is marked up every day by people who are idiots," he added.

As the stock market firmed this morning and then moved steadily higher during the afternoon, other traders talked gratefully about survival and about the continuing frenzy in the markets, which they said had permanently changed their view of Wall Street.

Rumors swirled by telephone about major arbitrage firms -- which speculate in takeover stocks -- that were crushed by the panic selling on Monday, and which were said to be teetering on the edge of insolvency today.

But a number of firms contacted said they were still doing business, although some said their expectations had been scaled down.

"The rumors of my demise are exaggerated," said George Kellner, partner at Kellner, DiLeo & Co. "We have been hurt. We're wounded, but I'm not on the verge of collapse."

At the offices of Abelow, Ihastz & Co., a mid-sized arbitrage firm located several doors from the New York Stock Exchange, Robert Levine emerged from a partners meeting and said, "I can tell you unequivocally that we will be a survivor. We won't be the same firm we were, but we will survive."

Levine said that when the stock-selling panic began, his firm liquidated all of its holdings in takeover related stocks.

"The market could go down 500 points today and it wouldn't matter," he said. "We're basically completely out of common stocks."

Wall Street sources said that several highly leveraged arbitrage firms had been severely wounded by Monday's rout, but said it was too early to assess the damage. "Rome is burning, okay?" one source said.

It seemed that way in the streets of the financial district at midday, when a throng of tourists and onlookers gathered outside the New York Stock Exchange, clogging traffic and competing with a dozen television cameras for a view of the building.

An evangelist dressed in a coat and tie and carrying a bullhorn wandered amid the cars and trucks, urging the crowd to repent.

"Is there anybody on this block who has a heavy heart?" he asked to rippling laughter.