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Market drops on Kerry remarks

| Monday, Aug. 26, 2013, 5:06 p.m.

NEW YORK — The stock market sagged on 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 his remarks suggested that the administration was edging closer to a military response.

Major indexes had been holding onto slight gains until the last hour of trading. That's when Kerry's televised talk appeared to jolt it lower, said Stephen J. Carl, head equity trader at the Williams Capital Group.

The S&P 500 index ended with a loss of 6.72 points, or 0.4 percent, at 1,656.78. The index was up two points just before Kerry began reading his statement.

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.

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, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago, said it's likely investors are looking past the one bad economic report because so many major events are nearing, including a Federal Reserve meeting, German elections and Congress' return to deal with a new fiscal year budget.

The Federal Reserve will start a two-day meeting on Sept. 17, during which officials will discuss phasing out support for the economy. After that, Germany holds national elections that could change how the region handles rescue loans for troubled countries. Congress returns from its summer break next week and will take up a new budget before the fiscal year starts on Oct. 1.

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