News / Middle East

Markets Trend Lower As Attention Shifts From bin Laden


The impact to financial markets from the death of Osama Bin Laden has been mostly mixed.   Initially, there was a drop in oil prices and a rally in global stock markets.  But most of the gains turned out to be temporary, as investors concluded that the death of the world's most-wanted terrorist is likely to have limited impact on the global economy. 

Nearly 10 years after the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil, spontaneous celebrations marked the announcement that the world's most-wanted terrorist was dead.

Many New Yorkers were ecstatic. "Elation, better prospects for the future, better prospects for the economy. Definitely a validation of how we are viewed overseas," said one man.

Global markets reflected the jubilant mood.  In Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei jumped more than 1.5 percent on Monday, while the DAX in Germany gained 0.7 percent.

ING senior economist Carsten Brzeski said, "If you look at the Asian market, the European market, there was a clear sign of relief.  Stock markets went up, the dollar strengthened a bit and also the kind of crisis tension indicators: gold price and also oil price came down a bit.  So clearly there was a sign of relief and financial markets a bit celebrating the huge step against the fight of, against terrorism."

But the relief was fleeting. By the end of Monday on Wall Street, the Dow Jones index had fallen 92 points from the day's high.

Robert Halver is a stock trader at Germany's Baader Bank. "Terrorism is a basic fact for analysis in the capital market.  We cannot say the item is all over now after we killed Osama Bin laden.  We still have to face that there is a massive danger even in the next couple of weeks, months and years," he said.

The sentiment caused a spike in volatility.  

Former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Harvey Pitt says Bin Laden's death will do little to reduce the terrorist threat. "I believe that the death of Osama bin Laden will prompt retaliatory strikes against the U.S. in a variety of forms.  And I'm not persuaded that the market's reaction takes into full account all of the likely political developments we are about to see," he said.

By Tuesday, any euphoria surrounding the U.S. raid in Pakistan had given way to other concerns - from the global impact of rising inflation in China to higher interest rates in India.
Although news of Bin Laden's demise helped push energy prices lower, energy trader Ray Carbone says other factors will ultimately determine whether oil and gas prices continue to rise. "The unrest in North Africa, Libya, more unrest in Syria, all tensions ratcheted up, all across the oil producing region - that to me is what is driving oil prices," he said.

The bottom line, say experts, is that Osama Bin Laden's death was a "feel-good" story. But it is a story whose financial impact, at least, is already starting to fade.

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