* Equities drop on geopolitical concerns
* NYSE, Nasdaq at odds over cause of last week's Nasdaq
* Consumer confidence rises above expectations
* Indexes down: Dow 0.61 pct, S&P 0.93 pct, Nasdaq 1.22 pct
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Aug 27 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell on Tuesday as
geopolitical tensions flared on the possibility of an impending
military strike against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's
forces in response to a chemical weapons attack against
civilians last week.
Western sources who attended a meeting in Istanbul between
envoys of an alliance opposed to Assad and the Syrian National
Coalition said "action to deter further use of chemical weapons
by the Assad regime could come as early as in the next few
Adding to the rising tension, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel
said in a television interview with the BBC the U.S. military
forces in the region are "ready to go" should President Barack
Obama order action against Syria.
"All the bad news is on the breakfast plate this morning in
terms of the escalation in Syria, debt ceiling negotiations -
there is just not a lot of good news today," said Bucky Hellwig,
senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham,
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said it was essential for
Congress to raise the government's borrowing limit by
mid-October or the country will face an unprecedented default,
and warned the administration would not allow for it to be used
as political leverage.
"The price action, despite the fact stocks are getting
slammed, to this point has been pretty encouraging in that it
didn't develop into a rout, it's just had an adjustment from
yesterday's events," said Hellwig.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday laid the
groundwork for possible action against Assad's government,
calling for accountability over what he called a "moral
Investor nervousness was reflected in a jump of more than 15
percent on the CBOE volatility index in the last two
Oil prices rose nearly 3 percent on the possibility Western
involvement could spark a wider conflict and destabilize the
The U.N. Security Council has been deadlocked on Syria since
2011. Russia and China have vetoed three resolutions condemning
Assad and calling for punitive steps against his government.
Gold prices touched a 15-week peak and prices of U.S.
Treasuries rose as the geopolitical tension sparked a flight to
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 91.74 points or
0.61 percent, to 14,854.72, the S&P 500 lost 15.34 points
or 0.93 percent, to 1,641.44 and the Nasdaq Composite
dropped 44.561 points or 1.22 percent, to 3,613.01.
On Wall Street, five days after a glitch that paralyzed
Nasdaq-listed stocks for three hours on all U.S. markets, rivals
Nasdaq OMX and NYSE Euronext have a different
understanding of what happened in the period preceding and
during the blackout, with each side blaming the other for the
outage, according to sources.
Shares of J.C.Penney climbed 3.4 percent to $13.80 a
day after hedge fund manager William Ackman, the biggest share
holder, said he had sold his entire stake after his campaign to
overhaul the retailer failed.
Goldman Sachs lost tens of millions of dollars after
a computer glitch led to a flood of erroneous options trades
last week, a source close to the matter said on Monday. Goldman
shares fell 1.6 percent to $155.43.
Shares of Tiffany & Co's strong sales in China and
higher prices made up for some disappointing business in its
home market in the latest quarter.
Data showed U.S. single-family home prices rose in June,
though the pace of gains slowed slightly, while consumer
confidence rose in August, beating expectations as consumers'
outlook for the future improved.