NEW YORK – A video appearance by Al Qaeda (search) leader Usama bin Laden (search), in which he said the United States may face renewed attacks, cast a shadow over the outlook for the U.S. stock market, analysts said Friday.
Bin Laden, in a video shown on Al-Jazeera TV just four days before the U.S. presidential election, said the United States could face more attacks because the reasons for mounting the strikes of Sept. 11, 2001, still existed.
The news broke after the U.S. stock market closed Friday.
The bin Laden video appearance — his first in more than a year — makes the outlook murkier for stocks, when Wall Street begins trading Monday.
After the market closed Friday, S&P 500 futures (search) initially inched lower and then rose. But there were few traders around late Friday after the closing bell.
"If the markets were open, it would be a temporary downward impact, then dissipate." said John Davidson, president of Partner Re Asset Management Corp., when asked about the impact of bin Laden's threats.
"It highlights the importance of defense against terrorism. That could tilt towards Bush, but I don't think it's his intent."
The latest polls show the race between President Bush and Sen. John Kerry too close to call.
Bin Laden looked healthy and spoke forcefully in the video. He said he thought of the idea of attacking the U.S. skyscrapers when he saw Israeli aircraft bombing tower blocks in Lebanon in 1982.
"As I watched the destroyed towers in Lebanon, it occurred to me to punish the unjust in the same way ... to destroy towers in America so that it can taste some of what we are tasting and to stop killing our children and women," bin Laden said.
On Friday, U.S. blue-chip stocks ended higher, helped by gains in energy companies, although investors showed caution before next Tuesday's presidential election.
By the time trading resumes on Monday, though, Wall Street's reaction could be limited as traders will have had the whole weekend to mull the news.
"If today was Thursday and tomorrow was Friday, you'd probably have more reaction, but (investors) have the whole of the weekend to digest it," said Michael Murphy, managing director at Wachovia Securities.
Investors were more likely to be focused on the outcome of the election some thought.
"I don't think the stock market is going to take a nosedive because they found out he's alive," said Robert S. Robbins, chief investment officer of SunTrust Robinson Humphrey Co.
"I don't think it will be meaningful on Monday. The real question that people are nervous about is who is going to be the next president."
The appearance could also boost Bush's chances of re-election on Nov. 2, market strategists initially thought.
"I would think it has to help Bush — there's the old saying, 'You never change generals in the middle of a war,"' Murphy said.
"If the fear is out there that he is still around, I think there is a comfort level that people have with the incumbent that would help him."
The "anti-Usama" vote would be to vote for Bush, according to John Derrick, director of research at U.S. Global Investors, Inc., in San Antonio, Texas.
"If anything I would almost think it would help Bush.(...) It's a very odd approach. They've taken a very soft, low- key approach to say Bush really didn't handle things well," he added.