U.S. equity markets were trading slightly lower Thursday afternoon after the Pentagon confirmed that at least four U.S. service members, and scores of others, were killed following two explosions near Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, amid U.S.-led evacuations from the Taliban-controlled country.
The Associated Press reported that at least 11 Marines were killed in the attacks.
The number of U.S. casualties and fatalities are expected to rise, according to reports.
U.S. stocks, however, have been mostly unfazed after the Taliban took control of the Middle Eastern country in mid August, though the Dow Jones Industrial Average
the S&P 500 index
and the Nasdaq Composite Index
have taken a slight leg lower Thursday amid the reports of heightened turmoil in Afghanistan.
The U.S.’s exit from Afghanistan, which has been described by some critics as chaotic, come after two decades of occupation and has raised underlying geopolitical risks, according to some analysts.
The development also has potentially clouded the outlook for President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda, but investors thus far have been focused on a planned Friday morning speech from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who could offer cues on the central bank’s plans for tapering stimulus measures. Some investors are betting that the Fed may slow those plans if there are signs that the economic recovery is faltering as the coronavirus delta variant spreads in some U.S. states.
So far though, trading in defense contractors, and exchange-traded funds that track the potential for heightened militarization and geopolitical risk in the region, has been mixed Thursday with Pentagon officials referring to the Kabul airport development as a “complex attack.”
“We also know that a number of Afghans fell victim to this heinous attack. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones and teammates of all those killed and injured,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby in a statement.
The Wall Street Journal reported that at least 60 Afghans were killed and the Associated Press has reported that 11 U.S. Marines were killed, as two blasts ripped through crowds trying to enter the American-controlled facility, amid the U.S.-led evacuation of the country.
Shares of defense contractors North Grumman Corp.
and Lockheed Martin Corp.
were both trading higher on Thursday, up 0.8% and 0.6%, respectively, and looking at week-to-date gains, rising 0.8% and 1% thus far, FactSet data show.
Meanwhile, exchange-traded fund the iShares U.S. Aerospace & Defense ETF
was down 0.9%, while the comparable SPDR S&P Aerospace and Defense ETF
was also trading lower, down 0.7%.
Earlier this week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. has evacuated at least 4,500 U.S. citizens and probably more since Aug. 14., but noted that around 1,500 Americans remained in the area.
Outside of equities, bonds were little-moved by the Afghanistan developments, with the benchmark 10-year Treasury note
yielding 1.35%. Yields for debt move in the opposite direction to prices.
The dollar, as gauged by the ICE U.S. Dollar Index
was, however, up 0.2% on the session, but down 0.5% so far on the week thus far.