U.S. stocks fluctuated, as investors dived into haven assets like gold and the U.S. dollar after deadly terrorist attacks in Brussels killed at least 31 people.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index pared losses, as gains by health-care and technology companies offset declines by transportation stock after explosions rocked a Brussels airport departure hall and a downtown subway station. Treasuries erased gains, while the yield on 10-year German bunds touched the lowest in almost two weeks. The pound dropped against all its major peers amid speculation the blasts may boost the case for Britain leaving the European Union. Gold advanced for the first time in four days.
Two bombs went off in rapid succession at the Belgian airport and an explosion an hour later hit a subway station a short walk from EU headquarters. The incidents, which follow terror attacks in Paris in November and a suicide bombing in Istanbul on March 19, may add to security concerns in Europe as officials attempt to bring an influx of migrants under control. Terrorist incidents including the one in the French capital and London bombings in 2005 spurred equity selloffs that were erased in the following days and weeks.
“The market appears to be more resilient than you’d expect after a terrorist attack,” said Michael Antonelli, an institutional equity sales trader and managing director at Robert W. Baird & Co. in Milwaukee. “We’re still in the negative, but I’m shocked we’re not down more. When you wake up to this news, it’s definitely going to put a damper on market sentiment.”
The S&P 500 added less than 0.1% at 3:04 p.m. in New York, with the gauge trading near its highest level of the year. Transportation stocks posted the biggest decline out of 24 groups, with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Carnival Corp. losing more than 2.2%. Biotechnology and technology hardware companies, such as Apple Inc., Amgen Inc. and Allergan Inc., contributed the most to gains in the benchmark measure today.
Activity was light again in this holiday-shortened week after yesterday marked the lowest volume this year. Trading in S&P 500 shares was 28% below the 30-day average for this time of day. That follows two of 2016’s slowest sessions last Monday and Tuesday before the Federal Reserve meeting. U.S. stock markets will be closed in observance of Good Friday.
European shares recovered most of their intraday losses at the close. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped 0.2%, after losing as much as 1.6%. Belgium’s Bel20 Index also pared declines, dropping 0.3%. On Nov. 16, the first day equities traded after the Paris terror attacks, France’s CAC 40 Index ended little changed.
Air France-KLM Group and hotel operator Accor SA slid. Thomas Cook Group Plc dropped 4.3% after also saying 2016 summer bookings have been lower than last year.
The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, which tracks the greenback against 10 major peers, added 0.2%. The gauge slid 1.3% last week after the Federal Reserve dialed back its outlook for rate increases this year. The presidents of the San Francisco and Atlanta Feds said Monday that tighter borrowing conditions could be warranted as soon as April given improvements in the U.S. economy.
The pound was the worst-performer among 16 major currencies, with Britain due to hold a referendum on European Union membership in June.
“The most negative reaction is for GBP,” Athanasios Vamvakidis, head of Group-of-10 currency strategy at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in London, wrote in e-mailed comments. “Any events that could give, to some people, arguments against migrants and refugees — such as a terrorist attack — could increase ‘Brexit’ risks.”
The euro-area’s benchmark German bunds rose, while Belgian bonds were little changed. Germany’s 10-year yield fell as much as five basis points to 0.18%, while the Belgian 10-year yield dropped two basis points to 0.6%.
The rate on similar-maturity U.S. Treasuries added two basis points to 1.93%, after falling to as low as 1.88%.
Belgium is on high alert after the capture of Paris terror attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam, believed to be the only surviving participant of the November massacre that left 130 people dead. Abdeslam faces a Brussels court decision on Wednesday on whether to extend a Belgian arrest warrant issued on Saturday. Commodities
Gold in the spot market rose as much as 1.4% and traded up 0.4% at $1,248.10 an ounce.
West Texas Intermediate for May delivery fell 7 cents to settle at $41.45 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after futures climbed as much as 0.9%. U.S. crude stockpiles are forecast to have risen last week, keeping supplies at the most since 1930. Oil gained Monday after OPEC Secretary General Abdalla El-Badri said that 15 or 16 nations will attend oil-output freeze talks in Doha on April 17.
Lead paced declines in industrial metals and zinc fell from a seven-month high. Lead for delivery in three months dropped 0.8% to $1,814 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange. Aluminum declined as much as 1.2%, and zinc slid from the highest closing price since August.
The MSCI Emerging Markets Index added 0.2%, poised for a fifth day of gains. Turkish stocks slid 2%, while South Africa’s benchmark declined 0.8%.
Hungary’s forint posted the biggest decline in emerging-market currencies, dropping 0.5% against the dollar. The nation’s central bank unexpected cut its benchmark rate.
The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.6%, ending a seven-day rally and the longest run of gains since May.