Closing Bell: Stocks Slip After Secretary of State Kerry Slams Syria

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. U.S. stocks fell, giving the Dow Jones Industrial Average its longest slump in 13 months, as minutes of the Federal Reserve's July meeting showed officials support stimulus cuts this year if the economy improves. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Though news of handful of corporate deals pushed stocks higher early Monday, the markets closed slightly lower after to Secretary of State John Kerry boosted the pressure on Syria, saying evidence of a major chemical weapons attack against its rebels was "undeniable" and sketching out the possibility of a U.S. military response.

Also pushing prices lower were weak economic news and ongoing concern that the Federal Reserve will soon begin scaling back its economic stimulus.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 64 points, or 0.4 percent, to 14,946, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) lost 6 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,656 and the Nasdaq composite index (^IXIC) dipped fractionally to 3,657.

Amgen surged nearly 8 percent, the biggest gain in the Standard & Poor's 500 index, after the biotech giant said it plans to buy Onyx Pharmaceuticals for $10.4 billion.

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Amgen (AMGN) gained $8.15 to $113.75 after hitting an all-time high of $116.25 earlier. Onyx (ONXX), the drugmaker it plans to acquire for $125 a share, rose 5.6 percent, to $123.49.

In another drug deal, AstraZeneca agreed to privately held U.S. biotech company Amplimmune for up to $500 million. The move is a way for AstraZeneca to boost its pipeline of cancer-fighting drugs. Shares of AstraZeneca (AZN) fell 0.4 percent to $50.47

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.

The Federal Reserve is to start a two-day meeting Sept. 17 at which officials will discuss easing Fed support for the economy. Congress returns from vacation next week and will have to take up a new budget before the new fiscal year starts on Oct. 1.

More Stocks in the News:

  • Anadarko Petroleum (APC) climbed 1.4 percent to $91.02. The oil and gas producer said late Sunday that it's selling part of its stake in a natural-gas site off the shores of Mozambique for $2.64 billion.

  • Tesla Motors (TSLA), the electric-car maker, climbed 1.5 percent, to $164.22, following reports that, in California, Tesla's Model S outsold Cadillac, Porsche, Jaguar and other brands in June.

  • Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies (UTX), is in a deal with the Pentagon to build engines for F-35 Joint Strike Fighters in a deal valued at more than $1 billion, according to sources familiar with the matter. Nonetheless, United Tech shares slipped 0.5 percent to $102.30.

  • In another deal, the Pritzker Organization said it will acquire scrap metal broker TMS International (TMS) for $17.50 a share, a premium of about 12 percent to TMS's Friday close of $15.57. TMS shares gained more than 12 percent to $17.48.

What to Watch Tuesday:

  • Standard & Poor's releases the S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices for June and the second quarter at 9 a.m. Eastern time.

  • The Conference Board releases the Consumer Confidence Index for August at 10 a.m.

These major companies are scheduled to report quarterly corporate earnings:

- Compiled from staff and wire reports.