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US: Stocks fall on Trump talk of Syria bombing


[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks sagged Wednesday as President Donald Trump threatened military action in Syria, while the Federal Reserve offered a generally upbeat outlook despite trade war fears.

Major indices were in negative territory for most of the session after Mr Trump announced on Twitter that missiles "will be coming" in response to an alleged chemical attack in Syria.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 0.9 per cent at 24,189.45.

The broad-based S&P 500 dropped 0.6 per cent to 2,642.19, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index shed 0.4 per cent to 7,069.03.

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The losses followed a strong session Tuesday in which stocks rallied after a conciliatory speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping raised hopes a US-China trade war could be averted.

But Mr Trump's remarks on Syria "dialed up" a new round of "geopolitical angst," said analyst Patrick O'Hare.

Fed officials, meanwhile, viewed a possible trade war as a "downside risk", yet still expected the US economy to grow solidly, according to minutes of the US central bank's meeting last month.

Large industrial companies and banks were especially weak, with Boeing shedding 2.2 per cent, JPMorgan Chase 1.7 per cent and DowDuPont 1.8 per cent.

But petroleum-linked shares rallied as oil prices rose on Mr Trump's Syria statements and after Saudi Arabia intercepted ballistic missiles fired from rebel-held Yemen and shot down two drones.

ConocoPhillips and oil services companies Halliburton and Schlumberger all rose more than one per cent.

Facebook gained 0.8 per cent as chief executive Mark Zuckerberg apologised and parried lawmaker queries on data security in a second day of congressional hearings into a scandal involving user data.