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Dow falls 116 points, after 103-point loss Monday

After U.S. airstrikes on Syria Monday, Sept. 22,

After U.S. airstrikes on Syria Monday, Sept. 22, 2014, an analyst said "the escalation of the conflict will of course raise questions over the risk appetite of many within the markets, who are no doubt worried about a major war which appears to be unfolding." Credit: AP / Mark Lennihan

Grim economic news from Europe and airstrikes in Syria rattled global stocks Tuesday.

And Wall Street was no exception. At the close, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 116.81 points, or 0.68 percent, to 17,055.87. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down 11.52 points, about 0.58 percent, to 1,982.77, and the Nasdaq composite gave up 19 points, or 0.42 percent to 4,508.69.

The Dow's triple-digit fall on Tuesday follows a 107-point stumble from the day before. The blue-chip index hasn't posted two losses of 100 or more points since June.

Still, the outlook in the United States is far more positive than Europe. The economy has been gaining strength after getting off to a slow start this year. Growth reached a 4.2 percent annual pace from April through June. Unemployment has dropped to 6.1 percent in August from 7.2 percent a year earlier. Employers have been adding 215,000 jobs a month this year, up from 194,000 a month in 2013. Consumers are more confident and willing to take on debt.

But individual countries' economies cannot stand on their own in today's global economy. If Europe and Asian economies were to lose more traction, it could spill over into the United States, investors say. Companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 index, for example, generate nearly half their sales abroad.

"When it comes right down to it, U.S. companies do business globally," said Quincy Krosby, a market strategist with Prudential Financial. "Unless global demand can keep up, it's going to start hurting these companies."

Along with the bad economic news, investors had geopolitical concerns to worry about Tuesday when the United States and five Arab nations attacked the Islamic State group's headquarters in eastern Syria.

Investors moved money into U.S. Treasury bonds and gold, which are considered havens during times of trouble. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell to 2.53 percent from 2.57 percent. The price of gold rose $4.10, or 0.3 percent, to $1,222 an ounce. "Bonds and gold are responding to those geopolitical concerns," Krosby said.

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