NEW YORK, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks on Tuesday plummeted due to intensifying tensions over alleged chemical weapons use in Syria, with the Nasdaq Composite Index shedding more than 2 percent.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 170.33 points, or 1.14 percent, to 14,776.13 points. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock Index shed 26.30 points, or 1.59 percent, to 1,630.48 points. The Nasdaq lost 79.05 points, or 2.16 percent, to 3,578.52 points.
After the dip, the blue-chip Dow and the broader S&P 500 fell to their lowest levels in two months, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped to its lowest in more than one month.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the BBC Tuesday that American forces were "ready" to act if President Barack Obama ordered an attack, toughening the Obama administration's stance against Syria.
On the previous trading day, Wall Street gave up earlier gains and finished lower following comments from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who said that Obama "believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world's most heinous weapons against the world's most vulnerable people."
On the economic front, U.S. home prices continued to increase in June but at a slower pace, according to a report released by S& P Dow Jones Indices Tuesday.
The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the leading measures of U.S. home prices, posted monthly returns of 2.2 percent in June both for the 10- and 20-City Composites, the report said, adding that all 20 cities posted gains on a monthly and an annual basis.
"Case-Shiller data run a month behind new and existing home sales data, so any effect from the recent rise in rates will show up a month later here. Still, there has been an appreciable slowdown in the rate of appreciation since it topped at nearly 2 percent in March," FTN Financial Chief Economist Christopher Low commented in a note Tuesday.
Moreover, U.S. consumer confidence index increased slightly in August, according to the Conference Board, a global, independent business membership and research association. The Index stood at 81.5, up from 81.0 in July.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered as a fear gauge of the market, leapt 11.81 percent to end at 16.76.
In other markets, oil prices surged Tuesday on market concerns that the tension in Syria will diminish crude supplies. Light, sweet crude for October delivery rose 2.9 percent, the biggest one- day gain this year, to settle at 109.01 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Gold future for December delivery on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange on Tuesday rose 27.1 dollars to settle at 1,420.2 dollars per ounce, a three-month high.
The U.S. dollar fell against Japanese yen and Swiss franc Tuesday as concerns over Syria boosted demand for safe-haven assets. In late New York trading, the dollar bought 97.1 Japanese yen, lower than 98.64 yen of the previous session and moved down to 0.9183 Swiss francs from 0.9231 Swiss francs.