Stocks: Worried about a strike on Syria

September 4, 2013: 6:42 AM ET
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

Investors were on edge Wednesday as it seems increasingly likely that the U.S. will lead a military strike against Syria.

U.S. stock futures were slightly lower, with the Dow Jones industrial average, the S&P 500 index and the Nasdaq all slipping ahead of the opening bell.

All three indexes ended the trading day with gains on Tuesday, but pulled back from earlier highs when leaders in the House of Representatives said they would support President Barack Obama's plan for a strike on Syria.

"Indeed, just how sensitive markets remain to the Syrian situation was shown when U.S. House Speaker John Boehner spoke in support of military action in Syria yesterday," wrote Deutsche Bank analyst Jim Reid in a market report. "This was enough to drive markets lower into the European close and sent the S&P 500 (+0.42% on the day) down 9 points (0.5%) within a matter of minutes."

Obama is seeking approval from Congress to carry out a military strike after saying U.S. intelligence showed that Syria used chemical weapons which killed more than 1,400 people.

Several key Democrats and Republicans have thrown their support behind Obama's plan in recent days, though a number of hurdles must still be overcome before the U.S. can take military action.

Related: Impact of war on stocks and oil

While investors are more likely to focus their attention on the situation in Syria Wednesday, there are a number of economic reports that could influence market sentiment.

August auto sales will be reported throughout the day. At 2 p.m. ET, the Federal Reserve will release its Beige Book, a report summarizing economic conditions in the country.

Discount retailer Dollar General (DG) will report its second-quarter results before the open.

Related: Fear & Greed Index sinks into extreme fear

On Tuesday, H&R Block (HRB) shares were down in after-hours trading after missing analyst expectations.

European markets were declining in morning trading, with France's CAC 40 and the DAX in Germany both off by about 0.7% and the FTSE 100 down by 0.6%.

Asian markets were little changed Wednesday. Japan's Nikkei index edged up by 0.5%, the Shanghai Composite index rose by 0.2% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index edged down by 0.3%.

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Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,265.99 109.14 0.64%
Nasdaq 4,593.43 31.24 0.68%
S&P 500 2,011.36 9.79 0.49%
Treasuries 2.63 0.03 1.12%
Data as of 11:54pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 17.04 0.27 1.61%
Yahoo! Inc 42.08 -0.50 -1.19%
Apple Inc 101.79 0.21 0.21%
Microsoft Corp 46.68 0.16 0.34%
General Electric Co 26.21 0.16 0.61%
Data as of 4:04pm ET