Stock markets in Europe, US fall after disappointing economic data, airstrikes in Syria

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NEW YORK — U.S. stocks were mostly lower and European stocks sank Tuesday following disappointing economic reports and U.S.-led airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 66 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,107 as of 1:30 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost five points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,988. The Nasdaq composite rose fell five points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,523.

In Europe, the damage was far more noticeable. France's CAC 40 lost 1.9 percent, Germany's DAX slid 1.6 percent and Britain's FTSE 100 fell 1.4 percent.


The European economy is sputtering. The financial information firm Markit reported Tuesday that its purchasing managers' index for the 18 countries that use the euro currency fell in September to a nine-month low.

The eurozone economy flat-lined from April through June and is barely growing now, hobbled by the lingering effects of a debt crisis, uncertainty arising from the conflict over Ukraine and a lack of confidence by European consumers, businesses and banks.

"It has a very feeble recovery going on that is vulnerable to even the slightest external shock," says Jacob Kirkegaard, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

AIRSTRIKES IN SYRIA: Weighing on investors' was news that the U.S. and five Arab nations attacked the Islamic State group's headquarters in eastern Syria in nighttime raids. Land- and sea-based U.S. aircraft as well as Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from two Navy ships in the Red Sea and the northern Persian Gulf were used.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "The escalation of the conflict will of course raise questions over the risk appetite of many within the markets, who are no doubt worried about a major war which appears to be unfolding," said Joshua Mahoney, research analyst at Alpari.

UNHEALTHY: Health-care stocks were among the biggest decliners in the U.S. The fall came after the Treasury Department announced regulations that would discourage corporate "inversions," deals, where a company merges with an overseas competitor to legally move its headquarters out of the U.S. to avoid paying high corporate tax rates. Health-care companies have been among the most active in striking such deals.

Shares fell for Medtronic and AbbVie, which have considered inversion deals. Medtronic lost $2.13, or 3.2 percent, to $63.85 and AbbVie fell $1.19, or 2 percent, to $57.52.

NO SALE: CarMax fell $5.43, or 10 percent, to $47.38. The car dealer reported an adjusted profit of 64 cents a share, which missed the 67 cents per share that analysts had expected.

CURRENCIES, ENERGY AND BONDS: The euro was flat at $1.286 while the dollar rose 0.1 percent to 108.86 yen. In oil markets, a barrel of benchmark U.S. crude rose 88 cents to $91.75. U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.55 percent.

Economics Writer Paul Wiseman contributed to this report from Washington.

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