Stocks fell on Wall Street Monday after Secretary of State John Kerry said there was "undeniable" evidence of a large-scale chemical weapons attack in Syria last week. Stocks are expected stay quiet this week, when many traders typically take their final summer vacations ahead of Labor Day.
The stock market sagged Monday after the Obama administration ratcheted up pressure against Syria.
Secretary of State John Kerry said there was "undeniable" evidence of a large-scale chemical weapons attack in Syria last week, and suggested the administration was edging closer to a military response.
The S&P 500 index slipped 6.72 points, or 0.4 percent, to close at 1,656.78. It was up two points just before Kerry began reading his statement Monday afternoon.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 64.05 points, or 0.4 percent, to close at 14,946.46. The Nasdaq composite slipped 0.22 of a point, or 0.01 percent, to 3,657.57.
Stephen J. Carl, head equity trader at the Williams Capital Group, observed that the market had drifted for most of the day until Kerry's televised talk jolted stocks.
A handful of corporate deals helped give the market a lift in the early going.
Amgen surged following its announcement late Sunday that the biotech giant plans to buy Onyx Pharmaceuticals for $10.4 billion. The acquisition would give Amgen three approved cancer treatments and several other potential drugs.
In economic news, the government reported that orders for long-lasting manufactured goods plunged 7.3 percent last month, the steepest drop in nearly a year. Demand for commercial aircraft sank and businesses spent less on computers and electrical equipment.
Jack Ablin, the chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago, said it's likely that investors are looking past the one bad economic report because so many major events loom ahead.