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Asia stocks fall as Syria jitters escalate

Pamela Sampson, AP Business Writer

BANGKOK (AP) -- Asian stock markets fell Tuesday, dented by fears the U.S. government is gearing up for a redoubled confrontation with Syria.

Economic releases scheduled later in the day were not likely to provide the good news needed to reverse the losses, analysts said.

"Further US data disappointment is likely today, with the August consumer confidence survey set to decline in contrast to a likely increase in the German IFO business confidence survey," Mitul Kotecha of Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong said in a market commentary.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.7 percent to 13,543.18. Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 1 percent to 21,777.38. South Korea's Kospi shed 0.2 percent to 1,883.96 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was nearly unchanged at 5,136.40.

Markets in the U.S. were rattled Monday after Secretary of State John Kerry said there was "undeniable" evidence of a large-scale chemical weapons attack in Syria last week, and suggested the administration was edging closer to a military response.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.4 percent to close at 14,946.46. The Standard & Poor's 500 slipped 0.4 percent to close at 1,656.78. The Nasdaq composite slipped marginally to 3,657.57.

Stocks also struggled to make progress after the U.S. Commerce Department said orders for long-lasting durable goods, such as commercial aircraft, plunged 7.3 percent in July. That was the steepest drop in a year.

The durable goods figures followed a report Friday revealing that new home sales in the U.S. tumbled last month, raising questions about the strength of the recovery in the U.S. housing market, a key piece of the country's overall economy.

Benchmark oil for October delivery was up 28 cents to $106.20 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 50 cents to close at $105.92 a barrel on the Nynex on Monday.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3372 from $1.3377 late Monday. The dollar fell to 98.14 yen from 98.31 yen.


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