What investors need to keep in mind

The recent, horrible terrorist attacks in Belgium remind us not only of the sadness of terrorist cruelty, but they also prompt consideration of the potential effects on the financial markets. How do global markets react to terrorist attacks? Should I change my investment plans?

Terrorist Attacks in Recent Years

Part of the intent of terrorist attacks is to scare people from visiting public places, shopping, or vacationing. As a result, these attacks can hamper the economy. Because markets detest uncertainty, there is an initial, knee-jerk reaction in the downward direction. However, markets have shown their resilience, investors return their focus to economic fundamentals, and growth begins again.

A list of major attacks of recent years begins, of course, with the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S. The list continues with the March, 2004 train bombings in Madrid; July, 2005 London subway bombings; April, 2013 Boston Marathon bombings; November, 2015 Paris attacks; and now the explosions that ripped through the Belgian capital of Brussels.

Diminishing Effects

The negative impact on stock markets has diminished with each major terrorist attack since the 9/11 attacks.

After 9/11, the New York Stock Exchange remained closed for four trading days. After the NYSE reopened on September 17, stocks declined and fell for the remainder of the week. The S&P 500 declined by 5.0% that day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 7.1% on the first day and declined by 14% by week’s end. Beginning the next week, however, stocks began a sustained rally over several months, lasting into January, 2002.

After the March, 2004 series of coordinated train explosions in Madrid, Spain’s IBEX 35 share index closed 2.2% lower. U.S. stocks had already been trending lower. The S&P 500 bottomed a few trading days later and then began to rise. Other global markets fell immediately but regained their strength the following week. The IBEX 35 increased 9.5% by year end.

In July, 2005 bombs went off in the London subways and on a bus. Britain’s FTSE 100 index fell 4.0% the first day. Although stocks initially fell, the markets rose past the pre-attack levels in under a week. U.S. stocks fell early that day but ended the trading session almost 1% higher. The FTSE 100 index rose 5.1% at year end.

After the April, 2013 attacks during the Boston Marathon, the S&P 500 fell sharply during the day. However, the index rose 1.4% the following day.

The attacks in Paris occurred on Friday, November 13. At the close on Monday, November 16, the first market day after the attacks, the French Index CAC 40 closed 0.1% lower. It then rose for the remainder of the week. The European Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose by 0.3% on Monday. In the first week after the Paris attacks, the SPDR S&P Emerging Europe ETF rose by 3%. Because the attacks happened over the weekend, markets may have benefitted from investors having time to analyze and reflect.

The stock exchange indexes for New York, Spain, and Britain all began to rebound soon after the terrorist attacks. In fact, with each ensuing attack, the markets took less time to recover from their initial declines.

Effect of Belgium Attacks

Brussels is the de-facto capital of the European Union. In fact, many European institutions and very large, international companies are headquartered there.

After initial news reports and the horrific images broadcast on cable news and across the web, global markets declined, US futures fell and all European markets opened lower.

France’s CAC and Germany’s DAX indexes dropped by 1% in early trading, before trimming those losses somewhat. The FTSE in the U.K. is also lower and Asian markets closed mixed.

Shares of many specific companies did not fare as well, however. Specifically, shares in European airline, airport and hotel companies were sharply lower. For example, in the airline sector, Ryanair, EasyJet, Air France-KLM, Lufthansa and British Airways operator IAG saw their stocks drop by almost 5%.

Shares in hotel groups (Accor, InterContinental Hotels) were down, as were shares in airport operators, such as Fraport, which operates a major hub in Frankfurt and Aeroports de Paris, which dropped about 4%.


The markets have sustained less damage due to terrorist attacks in ensuing years, for several reasons.

First, the sheer scale of the Sept. 11 attacks distinguishes them from the more recent attacks. The attacks hit two important cities simultaneously. Over 3,000 people died, two giant skyscrapers fell, and the Pentagon was hit. The terrorists hit the center of the financial world and the headquarters of the world’s most powerful military.

Second, the markets are no longer as shocked by these attacks because they have become used to it. Sad, but true. Third, investors have found that, horrific as they may be, these atrocities have relatively little economic impact.

While terrorist atrocities still shock individuals and governments, the market moves on relatively quickly.

Advice from A Financial Advisor

My advice to my clients is very simple: don’t do anything to your investments at the present time. Instead, channel your energies into intentional prayers for families in Belgium.

Because prayer is the world’s greatest wireless connection.

Copyright © 2016 RSW Publishing. All rights reserved.

Distributed by Financial Media Exchange.

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