U.S. stock indexes were little changed on Tuesday as investors shied away from risk following attacks in Brussels that killed at least 30 people and triggered security alerts across Europe.
A rise in shares of Apple and healthcare stocks helped support the market after the explosions at Brussels airport and a rush-hour metro train.
European markets fell, 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.
Shares of American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Delta Airlines were down between 0.7 percent and 2 percent. The NYSE Arca Airline index was down 1 percent.
Gold rose about 1 percent to $1,253 an ounce, while oil prices were slightly higher after falling earlier in the day.
"The market may be getting desensitized to this kind of violence," said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.
For financial markets, the events in Brussels come at a time when liquidity is starting to dry up ahead of the Easter holiday and investors are planning to cash in on a steep rally in stocks over the last few weeks.
The CBOE Volatility index, the most common gauge of fear and uncertainty on Wall Street, was up 4.6 percent at 14.43, still below the index's long-term average of 20.
Markets have reacted negatively to terrorist attacks such as the one in Paris last November, before quickly recovering.
The effect from terrorist activity fades within 10 days after the incident, according to research by PNC Investment.
At 11:58 a.m. ET (1558 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was down 39.24 points, or 0.22 percent, at 17,584.63, the S&P 500 was down 3.85 points, or 0.19 percent, at 2,047.75 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 1.35 points, or 0.03 percent, at 4,810.22.
Seven of the 10 major S&P sectors were higher, with the health index's 0.58 percent rise leading the advancers. Amgen's 2.3 percent rise gave the biggest boost to the index.
Cruise operator Carnival Corp's shares were down 3.4 percent at $48.09, while travel-website operator Expedia was off 1.8 percent at $108.83.
The Dow Jones U.S. Travel & Leisure index was down 1.1 percent.
The S&P 500 has risen about 8 percent in the past five weeks and is about 4 percent away from its all-time high.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,682 to 1,193. On the Nasdaq, 1,430 issues fell and 1,200 rose.
The S&P 500 index showed 13 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 24 new highs and 12 new lows.
(Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar and Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru,; Editing by Don Sebastian)
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Updated Date: Mar 22, 2016 23:00 PM