Monday’s sudden late-session sell-off that followed Secretary of State John Kerry’s aggressive posture towards the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad continued apace throughout Tuesday, as Wall Street found itself bracing for yet another Mideastern military outing.
Kerry stressed in a press conference on Monday that “President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world's most heinous weapons against the world's most vulnerable people." Last year, the President claimed that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would be the final straw that would force the US to intervene in a conflict that has so far claimed over 100,000 lives and destroyed untold swathes of one of the world’s oldest cultures.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dropped 1.59 percent to end the day at 1,630.48, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 1.14 percent lower at 14,776.13, and the NASDAQ plummeted 2.16 percent to finish at 3,578.52. The sell-off was also accompanied by the expected jump in both oil and gold prices.
Lost in all the concern over the geopolitical and domestic consequences of a deepening US involvement in the Syrian civil war was some good economic news. According to the S&P/CaseSchiller index, home prices in the US were up 12 percent year-over-year for the month of June. Meanwhile, the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index took an unexpected jump during the month of August to a reading of 81.5, an improvement on July’s reading of 81 and well ahead of expectations of a reading of 79.
Financial stocks bore a significant portion of the burden, with Bank of America (BAC) , Citigroup (C) , JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Wells Fargo ($WFC) all ending the day significantly lower on heavy trading.
The Dow saw 28 of 30 components in the red, led by Bank of America, with Microsoft (MSFT) , JPMorgan, and American Express Company (AXP) in tow.
On the NASDAQ, tech shares ended the day lower on the heaviest volume, with Facebook (FB) paring recent gains on a loss of 4 percent, with Micron Technology (MU) and Cisco Systems (CSCO) ending lower. Apple (AAPL) was down nearly three percent after news that the company was close to releasing a cheaper version of the iPhone 5 for emerging markets.