Aug. 27 - Stocks tumble, gold and oil prices rise as worries mount of a possible strike against Syria and renewed arguing in Washington over debts. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Wall Street cringes for a second day as the thought of possible military action against Syria sweeps across the trading floor. And the beginnings of what could be another Washington brawl over the debt ceiling also weighed on investors' minds. Blue chips closed at a two-month low, the S&P 500 closed at its lowest point since early July, but the Nasdaq led with a more than two percent slump. Gold was the beneficiary. The precious metal is up four days in a row, back to prices not seen since early June. And oil traders focusing on the possibility of supply disruptions if Syria is attacked, sent crude oil prices to an 18-month closing high at $109 a barrel. Tiffany expects to earn more money this year than previously thought. Stronger sales in China offsetting what has been a ho-hum summer for retailers in the U.S. And speaking of shoppers, a surprise bump-up in U.S. consumer confidence this month. Americans believe things will get better even though they were less optimistic about their current situations. The housing rebound is one reason for upbeat consumers, but there are more signs higher mortgage rates are slowing the recovery. Home prices continued to rise in June, but according to the S&P-Case/Shiller Index, price gains were smaller than prior months. One final bit of corporate news - BlackBerry is thinking of spinning off its BBM messaging service, according to the Wall Street Journal. A BlackBerry spokesperson would not comment on the report but two sources familiar with the product says BlackBerry is putting human and financial capital to work on the service as it prepares to launch on non-BlackBerry devices in the next few weeks. The company already announced it is exploring alternatives for its future. Finally, equity markets across Europe had their worst day in two months.