Wall Street recouped early losses on Tuesday, helped by a rise in healthcare stocks, even as travel-related shares remained under pressure following the Brussels attacks.
Gains in Exxon, Apple and UnitedHealth also supported the market after the explosions at Brussels airport and a rush-hour metro train killed at least 30 people and triggered security alerts across Europe.
Global risk markets faltered before limping up, while traditional safe havens gold and government bonds firmed as reports of the events in the de facto capital of the European Union unfolded.
Airline and travel-related stocks were the worst hit. The NYSE Arca Airline index was off 0.4 percent.
Shares of American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Continental and Delta Airlines were down between 0.3 percent and 1.6 percent.
The events in Brussels come at a time when liquidity was starting to dry up ahead of the Easter holiday and investors were planning to cash in on a steep rally in stocks over the last few weeks.
"The market may be getting desensitized to this kind of violence," said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The CBOE Volatility index, the most common gauge of fear and uncertainty on Wall Street, jumped as much as 7 percent to 14.76 early in the day, but retreated to seven-month lows.
The market recovery follows earlier patterns of a selloff in reaction to violent events, such as the one in Paris in November, before quickly recovering.
The effect from terrorist activity fades within 10 days after the incident, according to research by PNC Investment.
At 13:51 p.m. ET (1751 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was up 9.55 points, or 0.05 percent, at 17,633.42, the S&P 500 was up 3.4 points, or 0.17 percent, at 2,055 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 23.18 points, or 0.48 percent, at 4,832.05.
Six of the 10 major S&P sectors were higher, with the health index's 1 percent rise leading the advancers. Allergan's 2.6 percent jump gave the biggest boost to the index.
Cruise operators Carnival Corp and Royal Caribbean were down about 3 percent, while travel-website operator Expedia was off 1.7 percent at $109.
The Dow Jones U.S. Travel & Leisure index was down 0.8 percent.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,495 to 1,418. On the Nasdaq, 1,485 issues rose and 1,218 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 15 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 29 new highs and 15 new lows.
(Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar and Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru,; Editing by Don Sebastian)
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Updated Date: Mar 22, 2016 23:45 PM