On Monday night, the US launched more than 50 airstrikes at targets in Iraq and, for the first time, Syria. There were 22 strikes in Syria, including 14 against ISIS and 8 against the Khorasan Group. 47 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles were used in the attacks, as well as bombs from numerous planes, including, in its first such use, at least one Stealth F-22 Raptor.
While President Obama has been making a case for action against ISIS for weeks, many Americans have learned only within the last few days (or hours) of the Khorasan Group, which is thought to be a small Al Qaeda offshoot. Even so, it is the Khorasan Group, not ISIS, which was, before last night's attack, in the final stages of planning a major terrorist attack against the United States or Europe, according to the Obama administration.
The inherent uncertainty in military conflict makes the stock market forever dovish, at least in the short term, which is why the market sinks almost every time there is an escalation of any major armed conflict. Hence, if you are looking to blame someone or something for Tuesday's stock market decline, you can blame Al Qaeda. In afternoon trading, the Dow is down 0.4%; the NASDAQ, on the other hand, is down only 0.07%. Why the discrepancy? In a word, Apple (AAPL).
Apple's latest product launch, the introduction of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, can now be declared a smashing success, almost certainly the most successful launch in the post Steve Jobs era. From retailers and carriers alike, big sales numbers keep rolling in – we now know that Apple sold ten million phones in just the first three days. APPL stock, as is well known, has a huge affect on the NASDAQ, and AAPL is up 1.4% today.
On another day, it might have been enough to protect the market, or at least part of it, from the horrors of war. Today, it is more like a single bright spot, but a single bright spot – especially when it is a really big one, like Apple, is greatly preferable to total darkness.
Julian Close has been a business writer since the first day of the twenty-first century, having written for PRA International and the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping. He graduated from Davidson College in 1993 and received a Master of Arts in Teaching from Mary Baldwin College in 2011. He became a stockbroker in 1993, but now works for Fresh Brewed Media and uses his powers only for good. You can see closing trades for all Julian's long and short positions and track his long term performance via twitter: @JulianClose_MIC.