European stocks recover after Brussels attacks, while TSX, Dow remain lower

European and North American stock prices fell and oil took a hit on Tuesday, as investors reacted cautiously to the attacks on the airport and metro system in Brussels.

Loonie rises ahead of budget, but TSX remains lower

Police patrol the EU commission building in Brussels after an explosion nearby. European stocks fell in response to the attacks. (Martin Meissner/Associated Press)

European and North American stock prices fell and oil took a hit on Tuesday, as investors reacted cautiously to the attacks on the airport and metro system in Brussels.

However, by later in the day, both oil prices and European stocks were recovering while North American markets remained lower.

Brussels' airport and transit system were shut down and Belgium was under a terror alert after deadly explosions that left dozens dead and many more injured.

Indexes in all of Europe's stock markets dropped, with travel and leisure stocks such as Air France-KLM diving on the potential impact on tourism. However, at the end of trading, the Euro Stoxx index was up two points at 3,051 and all of Europe's stock markets were in positive territory.

Oil prices rose overnight after OPEC confirmed at least 15 to 16 nations will attend a meeting in April in Doha to talk about a production freeze.

By the close of North American trading Tuesday, West Texas Intermediate crude, the benchmark North American contract, was down eight cents at $41.44 US a barrel, and Brent, the international contract, was up 30 cents at $41.84 US a barrel.

Investors piled into to the safe haven of gold. Gold prices were up almost $9 on the day in early trading and remained up $4 at the close at $1,247 US an ounce. German bonds and U.S. Treasuries also saw strong interest from investors. 

Market reaction 'muted'

"It's always a sad day when terrorism has to be the driver to kick markets from their state of calm," said Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets. "It's also a sign of the times when the market response is — in relative terms — so muted. Investors have had to develop a thick skin for such horrific events over the years."

The British pound was knocked lower amid worries that the fear of further attacks might push British voters to opt for the "Brexit"  or withdrawal from the European Union when they vote in a referendum on June 23.

In Canada, investors are looking ahead to the federal budget Tuesday afternoon that could boost infrastructure spending, but also lead to increased government debt.

The TSX fell 52 points to 13,509.

The loonie gained a third of a cent to 76.66 cents US. There is hope that stimulus provided in the budget will help the Canadian economy grow, eliminating the need for another rate cut.

In New York, stocks were down in the morning and closed lower, with the Dow Jones industrial average fa;;omg 41 points to 17582, while the broader S&P 500 index was off two points to 2,049.

Several travel-related companies fell as investors weighed the potential fallout from the Belgium attacks among them Royal Caribbean Cruises, Carnival, American Airlines Group and Delta Air Lines.


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