Wall Street opens lower after Brussels explosions

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Wall Street opened lower on Tuesday after explosions in Brussels sparked fresh geopolitical concerns and sent investors scurrying for safe-haven assets.

At least 34 people were killed in twin attacks on Brussels airport and a rush-hour metro train in the Belgian capital, triggering security alerts across western Europe.

European markets fell, while traditional safe havens gold and government bonds firmed up as reports of the events in the de facto capital of the European Union unfolded. Airline and travel-related stocks were the worst hit.

"With economic growth so tepid around the world, including in the United States, the susceptibility to any type of terrorist attacks could highlight the market's fragility," said James Abate, chief investment office of Centre Funds in New York. Markets have reacted negatively to terrorist attacks such as the one in Paris last November, before quickly recovering.

At 9:39 a.m. ET (9:39 p.m Singapore time), the Dow Jones industrial average was down 57.32 points, or 0.33 per cent, at 17,566.55, the S&P 500 was down 8.23 points, or 0.4 per cent, at 2,043.37 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 13.65 points, or 0.28 per cent, at 4,795.22.

Goldman Sachs was the biggest drag on the Dow, while Apple's 0.4 percent drop weighed the most on the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.

All 10 major S&P sectors were lower, with the financial index's 0.70 per cent loss leading the decliners. The S&P 500 has risen about 8 per cent in the past five weeks and is about 4 per cent away from its all-time high.

"We're getting to the point in time where we're overbought in the short run. I wouldn't be surprised heading to the long weekend if we saw some profit taking," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York.

The Brussels attacks eclipsed encouraging economic data out of the euro zone, while Asian shares had faltered earlier over hints from U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers about an earlier-than-expected increase in interest rates.