"This is no longer simply about Syria," George Friedman, chairman of the Austin, Texas-based global security intelligence firm Stratfor said in a report. "The United States has stated a condition that commits it to an intervention. If it does not act when there is a clear violation of the condition, Obama increases the chance of war with other countries like North Korea and Iran." "It is hard to imagine how an attack on chemical weapons can avoid an attack on the regime -- and regimes are not destroyed from the air," he continued. "Doing so requires troops. Moreover, regimes that are destroyed must be replaced." Bricklin Dwyer, an economist at BNP Paribas in New York, wrote that October has typically run deficits in the neighborhood of $120 billion over the past few years, which implies the government would be at risk of default by the end of October or early November, unless the debt ceiling is increased or suspended. "While the timing is in line with our previous estimates, the formal announcement by Secretary Lew is a necessary step to ignite the likely contentious debt ceiling negotiations in Congress," said Dwyer. At 10 a.m., the Conference Board's August consumer confidence numbers will be out. A decline to 79 from 80.3 is expected. The June S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index showed an as-expected increase of 12.1% before the open, down from 12.2% in May. In other corporate news, Tiffany ( TIF)was rising 1.38% to $82.80 after the luxury retailer exceeded Wall Street expectations by nine cents with second-quarter earnings of 83 cents a share and hiked its full-year outlook amid impressive sales results in China. Specialty pharmaceutical company Hi-Tech Pharmacal ( HITK) is being acquired by competitor Akorn ( AKRX) for $640 million in cash, or $43.50 a share, which is a 23.5% premium over the prior session's settlement price. The benchmark 10-year Treasury was gaining 11/32, diluting the yield to 2.75%. The dollar was up 0.1% to $81.49 according to the U.S. dollar index. International stock markets sank. The DAX in Germany was slumping 1.59% and the FTSE 100 in London was off 0.61%. The Hong Kong Hang Seng closed down by 0.59% and the Nikkei 225 in Japan finished off 0.69%.