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The markets slid into the red on Monday after Secretary of State John Kerry said chemical weapons were used in Syria.
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 64.1 points, or 0.43%, to 14947, the S&P 500 dipped 6.7 points, or 0.4%, to 1657 and the Nasdaq Composite declined 0.22 point, or 0.01%, to 3658.
The markets posted a mixed performance last week, with the Dow edging lower and the S&P tilting higher. Monday was off to a quiet start, with the London Stock Exchange, Europe's biggest bourse, closed for a holiday.
Kerry said chemical weapons were used in Syria, vowing to hold the country liable for the use of chemical weapons. The specter of geopolitical tumult shook the markets. However, some traders downplayed the news.
The Commerce Department said orders for long-lasting goods plunged 7.3% in July from June, compared to expectations of a 4% drop. Excluding the transportation segment, orders fell 0.6%, missing expectations of a 0.5% gain. The report provides a broad view of how the economy is performing, and often impacts investment banks' forecasts. Indeed, the data prompted Barclays to slice its third-quarter U.S. GDP view to 1.9% from 2.1%.
In corporate news, Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) said it will buy Onyx Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ONXX) in a $10.4 billion deal. Meanwhile, AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) revealed it would buy a privately-held firm that makes cancer drugs for about $500 million.
Elsewhere, U.S. crude oil prices slumped 22 cents, or 0.2%, to $106.21 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline dipped 0.71%, to $2.99 a gallon. Gold slumped $2.10, or 0.15%, to $1,394 a troy ounce.
The Euro Stoxx 50 slid 0.63% to 2808 and the German DAX dipped 0.2% to 8400. The London Stock Exchange was closed for a holiday.
In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 slipped 0.18% to 13636 and rose 0.65% to 22005.