Europe Markets

Brussels attacks may sway Brexit vote: Strategists

Transports, leisure hit on terror fears
Transports, leisure hit on terror fears

European stocks, especially the transportation sector, were declining, in the wake of Tuesday's terrorist attacks at the main Brussels airport and a metro station near European Union buildings.

Nandini Ramakrishnan, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management, told CNBC's "Worldwide Exchange" the blasts were likely to dampen a key driver of Europe's recovery.

"I think there's a larger story here, where these types of events do affect consumer sentiment," Ramakrishnan said. "We're worried about consumer discretionary sectors, which have been really pioneering the European recovery."

European airlines stocks fell after news of explosions. Air France, for example, was down about 4 percent. Travel on small commercial flights, which Europe is known for, is likely to continue slowing as fears about terrorism reignite, Ramakrishnan said.

"[But] markets are a bit more resilient than we think, people are still waiting to see as the news develops," she said. "It's very difficult for traders and investors to position themselves in any way for something like this."

The attacks in Brussels could impact the so-called "Brexit" referendum in June, said Ramakrishnan. "An event like today certainly does push the case for certain campaign language for the U.K. to leave the EU a bit further."

Ramakrishnan sees shakiness in U.K. equities, because of investor indecision on whether to put money into companies that rely on the close relationship with the European Union.

"We're in a bit of a wait-and-see mode," she added. "The uncertainties could certainly affect markets in a negative way."

Brussels explosions to fuel Brexit debate: Emons
Brussels explosions to fuel Brexit debate: Emons

Ben Emons, managing director and portfolio manager at Leader Capital, was also clear about Tuesday's attacks influencing this summer's vote on whether the U.K. should exit the EU.

"The security of Europe continues to be in question," Emons told "Worldwide Exchange" in a separate interview. "Political pressure is clear and this will only fuel your skeptics."

The dollar has weakened against a basket of currencies over the past few weeks but the index was reversing slightly Tuesday. Emons said the trend is this is likely to continue. "I think the dollar takes some of the weakness back and just gets strength in a day like this."

Economic surveys out of Belgium, he said, are key consumer indicators for the rest of Europe. They're likely to be dulled by the explosions in Brussels, he said.

"Belgium is an open economy, very dynamic, and has the largest port in Europe, so that will be a level of disruption, too," Emons said.