Geopolitical Turmoil Shakes Futures


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U.S. stock-index futures fell sharply on Tuesday as the drumbeat of an American-led war in Syria picked up and oil and gold futures rallied.

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Today's Markets

As of 9:15 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 123 points to 14808, S&P 500 futures slid 16.5 points to 1637 and Nasdaq 100 futures slumped 33.5 points to 3088.

Wall Street has its eyes set on Syria.

Commentary from Secretary of State John Kerry Monday afternoon made it clear that the U.S. believes the Bashar al-Assad regime used chemical weapons in the latest phase of a gruesome civil war in the Middle Eastern nation. The move crossed a "red line" defined by the Obama administration, and, analysts said, could be what forces the country to launch a military strike.

Todd Schoenberger, managing partner at LandColt Capital, said Wall Street is "extremely concerned" with the latest escalation there: "One thing is absolutely certain for the outlook in the equity markets: Chaos is here and not likely to subside any time soon."

In a sign of the mounting tension across world trading desks, oil and gold prices both shot up.

Gold prices recently climbed $21.00, or 1.6%, to $1,414 a troy ounce. U.S. crude oil surged $2.04, or 1.9%, to $107.97 a barrel. Gold is generally seen as a safe-haven asset that investors flock to amid geopolitical turmoil. Meanwhile, oil tends to react to events in the Middle East.

The Street will also get two key economic reports on the day. Home prices in 20 major cities rose 2.2% in June on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index. Economists expected a slightly bigger gain of 2.3%. Home prices were up 12.1% from the year prior.

The report is a lagging indicator, but is seen as giving a broad overview of the strength of the U.S. housing market, which has been a major driver in the economic recovery.

The Conference Board's gauge of consumer confidence for the month of August is also on tap. Economists expect a reading of 80.3, which would match July's reading.

Elsewhere, Tiffany & Co. (NYSE:TIF) revealed better-than-expected quarterly profits and boosted its full-year outlook.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 tumbled 1.6% to 2777, the English FTSE 100 dipped 0.63% to 6451 and the German DAX dropped 1.5% to 8305.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 dipped 0.69% to 13542 and the Chinese Hang Seng fell 0.59% to 21875.

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