Stocks Suffer August Slump Amid Fed, Syria Woes


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The markets slid lower in August as traders fretted about when the Fed will end its bond-buying program and the potential for a Syria conflict roiling the Middle East.

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Today's Markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 30.6 points, or 0.21%, to 14810, the S&P 500 dipped 5.2 points, or 0.32%, to 1633 and the Nasdaq Composite slumped 30.4 point, or 0.84%, to 3590.

Action has been driven this month by worries about when the Federal Reserve will begin tapering its vast bond-buying program. Those concerns drove broad S&P 500 down by 3.2% and the narrower Dow down 4.5%. Late this month, worries about the potential for a U.S.-led strike against Syria have also weighed heavily on sentiment.

With Wall Street eyeing a long weekend, analysts said trading volume could be light on the day, which sometimes leads to heightened volatility. A handful of economic reports could help provide direction.

Consumer spending and personal income rose 0.1% in July from June. Consumer spending was expected to rise 0.3%, while economists expected personal income to rise 0.2%. A reading on consumer sentiment from Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan came in at 82.1 in late-August, up from 80 earlier in the month. The reading slightly beat economists’ expectations of 80.5, but is the lowest final number since April.

Meanwhile, the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago reports its gauge of manufacturing activity in the Midwest rose to 53 in August from 52.3 in July, matching economists’ expectations. Readings above 50 point to expansion, while those below point to contraction.

In corporate news, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) cut about 1,000 jobs and closed two Ohio offices, according to news report. Big Lots (NYSE:BIG) revealed better-than-expected quarterly profits.

Elsewhere, the benchmark U.S. crude oil contract fell 71 cents, or 0.66%, to $108.05 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline dipped 0.7% to $3.045 a gallon. Gold sold off by $17.30, or 1.2%, to $1,396.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 fell 0.75% to 2738, the English FTSE 100 dropped 0.49% to 6452 and the German DAX slumped 0.7% to 8138.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 slipped 0.53% to 13389 and the Chinese Hang Seng rose 0.12% to 21731.

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