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For most of the summer, the biggest obstacle for the US stock market as it motored its way upward was the possibility of the Fed tapering its stimulus, but now the liklihood of US military action in Syria has crashed into the middle of the road, dominating headlines and blocking the advance of stock prices, as investors wrestle with the uncertainty inherent in the situation.
Data earlier in the day showed US manufacturing picking up pace in August, with the new orders component of the ISM manufacturing index breaking above 60 for the first time in nearly two and a half years. Along with strong construction spending, which climbed 0.6% in July, the data paints a picture of a moderately robust economy.
This was overshadowed by events concerning Syria though. The weekend’s news that President Obama would seek congressional approval before embarking on any military action against Syria spurred something of a relief rally earlier in the day, but news this afternoon that key members of congress will support President Obama has caused stocks to pare their gains.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic leader in the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi both made comments suggesting backing for the use of US military force against Syria.
In the last hour of trading on Wall Street, the Dow was up 0.14% or 20 points at 14,831, after having been in the red for much of the afternoon in New York, and the S&P 500 was up 0.36%. The S&P had earlier been up more than 1%.