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Overnight Markets: US stocks fall on heightened Russia concerns

Overnight Markets: US stocks fall on heightened Russia concerns

US stocks declined on Thursday, sending the Dow Jones to the lowest level since April, as Russia's surprisingly harsh retaliatory measures in response to Western sanctions raised concerns about global growth.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 75 points, or 0.46%, to 16,368, the S&P 500 ended down 11 points, or 0.56%, to 1,910, and the Nasdaq Composite lost 20 points, or 0.46%, to 4,335.

In retaliation to West’s sanctions against Russia for supporting rebels in eastern Ukraine, Moscow banned imports of many Western foods. Investors also worried that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is escalating, with the downing of a Ukrainian fighter jet.

In the US, data showed fewer Americans filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, sending the average over the past month to an eight-year low, a sign the labour market continues to gain momentum.

Consumer staples shares slipped yesterday, while utilities posted the sole sector gains. Health insurer stocks were also poor performers, dipping after Goldman Sachs downgraded Aetna (AET.N) to "neutral" and cut earnings estimates on a number of its peers.

Aetna shares slid 4%, UnitedHealth Group (UNH.N) shares lost 2.7% and Cigna shares (CI.N) fell 3%.

Tyson Foods Inc. (TSN) slid 2% after Russia banned billions of dollars of food imports from the US and other nations in retaliation for sanctions.

Twenty-First Century Fox (FOXA.O) surged 5.1% after the company's quarterly profit beat Wall Street's expectations.

Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. declined 5.7% after the owner of HGTV and the Travel Channel reported second-quarter revenue that missed analyst estimates.

Harman International Industries Inc. (HAR), which makes technology for auto-navigation systems, slid 4% as it forecast 2015 earnings below projections.

In Asia, stocks declined on Friday in morning trade as US President Barack Obama authorised an air strikes in Iraq.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.9% to 145 as of 9:48 a.m. in Hong Kong. Japan’s Topix index fell 1.6% as the nation’s central bank concludes a policy meeting today.

South Korea’s Kospi index dropped 1% and Singapore’s Straits Times declined 0.8%. Taiwan’s Taiex index lost 0.7% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index slid 0.6%. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index slipped 0.4%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index lost 0.3%, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index added 0.2%. China releases July trade data tomorrow, with export growth forecast to have decelerated to 7% as imports expanded 2.6%.

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