Closing Update: Investors Abandon Stocks For Safer Havens as Syria Worries Dominate Session

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Stocks closed near their session lows Tuesday as global tensions and domestic politics combined to keep the U.S. markets underwater for a second day. A potential military action against Syria worried investors, who abandoned equities for perceived safe havens like gold and U.S. government bonds. Crude oil prices also surged, rising nearly 3% to settle at an 18-month high of $109.01 per barrel. The sharp rise for crude kept energy issues near positive territory for much of the session, although by the end of the day, utility stocks were the lone sector in the S&P 500 to finish higher.

The pressure on stocks began yesterday afternoon when Secretary of State John Kerry warned of a possible U.S. military strike in response to Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians. The selling pressure was amplified just before the open when Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned Congressional Republicans the President will not negotiate over raising the nation's debt ceiling, expected to be reached by mid-October.

Today's data included the Case-Shiller home price index, rising 0.9% in June versus expectations for a 1.0% gain. Consumer confidence, however, jumped to a 81.5 reading this month, well above forecasts expecting a slight decline in sentiment from July levels to a 78.0 score. Same goes for the Richmond Fed manufacturing survey jumping to a 14.0 reading from a negative 11.0 score in July and easily beating the market consensus looking for little change.

Among commodities, December gold rose $27.20 to settle at $1420.20 per ounce while September silver added 66 cents to finish at $24.66 per ounce. September copper was up a penny to $3.33 per pound. September natural gas was up 2 cents at $3.54 per 1 million BTU.

Here's where the U.S. markets stood at end-of-day:

Dow Jones Industrial Average down 170.33 (-1.14%) to 14,776.13

S&P 500 down 26.30 (-1.59%) to 1,630.48

Nasdaq Composite Index down 79.05 (-2.16%) to 3,578.52

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Hang Seng Index down 0.59%

Shanghai China Composite Index up 0.34%

FTSE 100 Index down 0.79%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) JCP, Reverses early losses that initially followed Bill Ackman liquidating his entire stake in the department-store retailer at $12.90 a share.

(+) CPRX, Shares hit a 52-week high after FDA gives the company's Firdapse drug candidate Breakthrough Therapy designation.

(+) MOV, Beats estimates looking for $136 million in Q2 revenue by reporting $138.3 million in quarterly revenue. Also approves 60% increase in quarterly dividend.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) TIF, High-end jeweler sheds earlier gains from better-than-expected Q2 earnings as the broader markets slide. Also, 4.4% revenue growth was not enough to meet analyst expectations. Issues in-line FY14 guidance.

(-) BBY, Founder and former CEO Richard Schulz discloses plans to sell a portion of his stake in the consumer electronics retailer starting this fall.

(-) IDTI, CEO Ted Tewksbury resigns, effective immediately.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

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This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

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