NEW YORK, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- Wall Street gave up earlier gains and finished lower Monday, after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that President Barack Obama "believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world's most heinous weapons against the world's most vulnerable people."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 64.05 points, or 0.43 percent, to 14,946.46 points. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock Index decreased 6.72 points, or 0.40 percent, to 1,656.78 points. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 0.22 point, or 0.01 percent, to 3,657.57 points.
The market plummeted shortly after Kerry said Monday afternoon that the use of chemical weapons against civilians in Syria is inexcusable and "undeniable,"and that Obama will be making an informed decision on how to respond. The remarks sparked off market concerns over the political turmoil in the Middle East.
In the earlier trading session, the U.S. stocks rallied as the country's lower-than-expected durable goods orders in July alleviated worries that the U.S. Federal Reserve would scale back its stimulus measures soon.
New orders for manufactured durable goods in July dropped 7.3 percent from the previous month following three consecutive monthly increases, weighed down by a weak demand for transportation equipment, the U.S. Commerce Department reported Monday.
The latest durable goods figure marked the biggest drop in nearly a year and fell far short of analysts' expectations of a 4- percent decrease.
"Durable orders were surprisingly weak in July, offering further proof the recent rise in interest rates is straining interest-sensitive industries," FTN Financial Chief Economist Christopher Low commented in a note Monday.
The statistics also indicated weakness in the world's largest economy and added uncertainties over when the Fed will start to trim its monthly asset purchases.
Prospect of the Fed's possible tapering later this year has caused market volatility in the United States as well as turmoil in emerging markets.
Moreover, Texas factory activity increased at a slower pace in August, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. The production index, a key gauge of state manufacturing conditions, remained positive but fell from 11.4 in July to 7.3 in August.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered as a fear gauge of the market, jumped 7.22 percent to end at 14.99.
In other markets, U.S. oil prices dropped Monday on the downbeat U.S. durable goods in July. Light, sweet crude for October delivery lost 0.50 dollars to settle at 105.92 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Gold future for December delivery on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange slipped 2.7 dollars to settle at 1, 393.1 dollars per ounce Monday.
The U.S. dollar was little changed against major currencies Monday, amid uncertainties over the timing of the Fed stimulus tapering.
In late New York trading, the euro declined to 1.3373 dollars from 1.3381 dollars of the previous session, and the dollar bought 98.64 Japanese yen, lower than 98.68 yen of the previous session.