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US share prices have plunged today, with the possibility of an impending missile attack on Syria by the US military in response to a chemical attack on civilians last week unnerving investors. US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said the military was ‘ready to go’ if President Obama gives the word.
By early afternoon in New York, the Dow had plummeted 0.9% or 135 points to 14,810 and the S&P 500 had fallen even faster, shedding 1.3% of its value to stand at 1635.0. The NASDAQ 100 had the most extreme drop of all, falling more than 1.8%.
The tensions in the Middle East helped propel the price of oil upward. Crude futures for October spiked 3% to $109 a barrel on concerns that an escalation in the conflict could hinder oil production in key oil-producing countries in that locality.
Investor confidence has also been affected by the possibility of another round of political bickering over the debt limit, which, according to estimates from the Treasury Department, will be reached by mid-October.
Economic data was fairly upbeat today, though, with a report from Case-Shiller showing home prices rose 0.9% in June (seasonally adjusted) and the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index showed a surprise increase this month, as US consumers improved their view of the prospects for the economy.