Is Syria Weighing Heavily on Stocks?

U.S. stock markets started September with a bang but then faded into the close as the threat of a missile strike against Syria came back into view.

Over the weekend, the likelihood of Congressional resistance put the strike on hold, but the new week found House Speaker John Boehner, Senator John McCain, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor lining up behind President Obama to promote Congressional approval of an airstrike on Syria.

Economic reports helped stocks close in the green as The Institute for Supply Management’s August 2013 ISM Manufacturing Report on Business indicated that the Purchasing Managers Index made an unexpected advance to 55.7 from July’s 55.4. Economists were expecting a decline to 53.8.

The Commerce Department’s Census Bureau reported that Construction Spending increased 0.6 percent in July to $900.8 billion from June’s $895.7 billion. Economists had been expecting a less-significant increase of 0.3 percent. Investors were unfazed by the fact that the final August U.S. Manufacturing PMI from Markit Economics declined to 53.1 from the flash estimate of 53.9 and the July reading of 53.7, despite expectations that the flash estimate would hold.

Although Markit provides global PMI data, the firm only recently began publishing PMI reports concerning the United States, as the ISM had always been the recognized authority on U.S. PMI data. Both firms claim PMI as a trademark.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (NYSEARCA:DIA) picked up 23 points to finish Tuesday’s trading session at 14,833 for a 0.16 percent advance. The S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPY) climbed 0.42 percent to close at 1,639. The Nasdaq 100 (NASDAQ:QQQ) advanced 0.58 percent to finish at 3,091. The Russell 2000 (NYSEARCA:IWM) rose 0.53 percent to end the day at 1,016.