Rising World Tensions Send Markets Lower

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

As it seems inevitable that the U.S. will be involved in some sort of strike against Syria, investors are taking risk off the table and the markets in general are moving lower. As of 11:45 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is currently down 84 points or 0.57%, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq fell even harder. The S&P is down 0.89% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq has lost 1.09% this morning.

The issues in Syria don't only highlight the problems Western European countries and the U.S. have with Syria, but also point out that other nations in the Middle East and Russia are opposing U.S. intervention in the Syrian conflict. As tensions rise in the Middle East, so do gas prices, and that has helped Dow components ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  ) and Chevron (NYSE: CVX  ) , which are higher by 0.28% and 0.61%, respectively, so far today. Light crude is up 2.44%, as unleaded gasoline has risen just more than 2% today. If an attack on Syria does happen, it's not hard to see these prices going even higher, which may help the oil companies but will surely put a squeeze on American wallets.

Outside the Dow, shares of J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP  ) are trading higher by 2.81% today after it was announced that all of Bill Ackman's shares in the company were purchased last night by other investors. The fact that he was the largest shareholder and could sell his entire stake as quickly as he did is giving other investors confidence today and pushing the share price higher. But although now that Ackman is off the board and his huge stake in the company has been divested, J.C. Penney still has a long ways to go. The company was struggling when he came on board, and while we could argue whether it's in worse shape or not now, the fact is, it's not doing great overall.  

Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS  ) is losing 1.18% of its value today after a report was released indicating that the investment bank lost tens of millions of dollars because of a computer glitch that caused an overwhelming number of erroneous options trades last week. We have seen in the past how flawed trading programs can cause flash crashes, destroy investment firms, and cost investors billions. The problem is clearly not just with the small players, as this is the highest-profile firm to report a problem with computer trading.

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