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Three years of plunging markets and dour financial indicators didn’t end with the start of war — one historical cure for an ailing market.

Stock buyers cheered the initial launch into Iraq with a flurry of buying — sending the Dow Jones industrial average up more than in decades.

But optimism didn’t last. The world’s stock markets tumbled last week. March 24 was one of the Dow’s largest one-day drops in months — the index plunged more than 300 points. Asian markets mirrored the U.S. decline.

Financial analysts linked the drop to the televised images of battle casualties and prisoners, and the reality that this war isn’t cut and dried.

“When it wasn’t just a clean ‘go in and take over the country’, the stock market took a major dip,” said Dan Carey, a stock investor from Sasebo, Japan. “The stock market doesn’t like it when anything is in question.”

Wall Street’s financial analysts agree.

“Anything that can potentially be viewed as ending the war earlier” will boost the market, Prudential Securities market analyst Bryan Piskorowski told The Associated Press. “By and large, economic and earnings data will take a back seat to the war.”

Wars have in the past helped the economy. Standard & Poor’s chief investment strategist, Sam Stovall, wrote in a report at the start of the war, after Korea, Vietnam and Kuwait, initial market slumps grew into market growth six months later.

Low trading volumes during the last few days show major investors are waiting to see how the war plays out, Piskorowski told AP.

Some analysts suggest a protracted war and the damage it could bring to the economy could spell more market uncertainty.

Despite the roller-coaster ride, investors haven’t seen widespread panic from investors in the Pacific or the States. The market has been ailing for several years and investors have developed thicker skins.

“Most of the panic is gone because the market has been down for three years,” Carey said.

At the same time, a down market offers perfect opportunities for investors looking to buy — the low cost means more room for stocks to grow over time. It’s like a sale.

“They may not be at their rock bottom,” he said. “But now is a good time to buy.”

“As it’s going down, there’s a part of me that’s saying ‘great,’” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Chris Canarina, an Air Force historian stationed at Yongsan Garrison, South Korea.

Canarina has an allotment taken from his pay and directly invested. The same amount of money is buying more stock lately due to the lower prices.

Still, his previous stock is worth less, too.

“I’m not worried because I’m in for the long term,” he said. “And I know historically the stock market always goes back up.”

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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