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Dow Futures Slip But Iran’s Missiles Aren’t It – Here’s the Real Reason

Last Updated March 4, 2021 2:40 PM
Ben Brown
Last Updated March 4, 2021 2:40 PM
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) futures dip 100 points in early trading Wednesday.
  • Traders appear to be shrugging off the impact of Iran’s missile attack on US military bases overnight.
  • But the Dow continues to lag as another Boeing 737 crash drags down the flagship US index.

Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) futures are down 100 points this morning, pointing to a nervous stock market open. At a quick glance, it would seem that Iran’s counter-attack on US military bases overnight triggered a wave of stock market panic. But a closer look reveals a different story.

In an unusual turn, Dow futures are dragging deeper than S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures. Something unique to the DJIA is at play here.

The answer is Boeing (NYSE:BA).

Hours of Iran’s missile attack, a Boeing 737-800 crashed shortly after takeoff in Tehran , killing all 176 people on board. As the largest constituent of the Dow Jones, the decline in Boeing’s stock after hours is disproportionately dragging the entire index down.

Boeing triggers triple-digit fall in Dow Jones futures

Dow futures contracts  fell as much as 200 points overnight, but recovered slightly, currently sitting 95 points (0.35%) lower.

Dow futures chart Wednesday
Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) futures drop 100 points on Wednesday. Source: Yahoo Finance

The fall is deeper than S&P 500 futures  (0.12%) and Nasdaq Composite futures  (0.19%). Bitcoin traded at $8,342 after a monster rally in the last 24 hours.

Stock market shrugs off Iran missile attack

Stocks took an initial dive last night when Iran launched at least a dozen ballistic missiles at US military bases in northern Iraq. But the equity markets paired most of the losses as full details emerged overnight.

Analysts appear to view the missile attack as a sign of de-escalation of tensions since there are no reported casualties . Indeed, this was probably the plan. As CNN put it:

Iran’s missile strikes against bases in Iraq housing US troops was not a response designed to kill the most Americans possible. Iran will have known that in the early hours of the morning, US troops are normally asleep and the chances of inflicting casualties are lower.

Former US ambassador to Oman, Richard Schmierer, agreed, claiming the Iran attack was a chance for detente .

This might be the opportunity — in the absence of casualties — for the two sides to now say: ‘okay we have each done something, we can stand down.

Another Boeing crash drags down the Dow

The real reason for the Dow’s disproportionate decline is Boeing. Another tragic plane crash has rocked Boeing stock, pushing it down as much as 2.6% after hours.

A Ukrainian Boeing 737-800 took off from Tehran last night but stopped sending data almost immediately. The plane crashed outside the city, killing all passengers and crew.

Boeing NYSE:BA tweet
  Source: Megan Pratz

Boeing has come under immense pressure over the last 18 months after two deadly crashes involving the 737 MAX. While the Iran crash did not involve the MAX model, it will add yet more scrutiny to the plane maker.

Boeing is the largest constituent of the price-weighted Dow Jones index, with an 8% weighting.  When Boeing stock moves, it takes the entire Dow Jones with it. And that’s what we’re seeing in the early hours of trading today.