World stock markets fell Tuesday as investors worried about a possible U.S. military strike against Syria over its suspected use of chemical weapons.
European indexes and most major Asian markets fell, while U.S. stock futures were more than 0.5% weaker ahead of the open. German government bonds and gold were firmer as investors sought less risky assets, and concern about the regional implications sent oil prices higher in Europe.
Investors have grown increasingly concerned that the U.S. and its allies are preparing for military action against Syria ever since Secretary of State John Kerry's speech Monday that evidence "strongly indicates" chemical weapons were used in Syria.
A spokesman for U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters Tuesday that the British military was making "contingency plans" for a strike on Syria.
Kerry's comments condemning Syria were interpreted as a war speech, sparking a downward move in the Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 during the final hour of trading on Monday. It also erased modest gains in the Nasdaq, which closed flat.
All major European markets fell in morning trading as overseas investors fretted about how the U.S. will react to the Syrian situation. Germany's DAX and France's CAC 40 both fell by about 1.5%.