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Overnight Markets: Wall Street declines on Iraq concerns

Overnight Markets: Wall Street declines on Iraq concerns

Wall Street declined on Tuesday as early enthusiasm from economic data was overshadowed by reports of escalating violence in the Middle East.

The Dow Jones industrial average declined 119 points or 0.7%, to end at 16,818. The S&P 500 lost 13 points or 0.64%, to 1,950. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 18 points or 0.42%, to 4,350.

Shares gained in early trading after data showed consumer confidence surged more than expected in June, while new home sales in May rose more than anticipated, boosting optimism in the world’s biggest economy.

In another snapshot of the housing sector, the S&P/Case-Shiller composite index showed single-family home prices rose less than expected in April.

However, the market's gains evaporated in the afternoon on concerns about an escalation of the conflict in Iraq. US Secretary of State John Kerry urged leaders of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region on Tuesday to stand with Baghdad in the face of a Sunni insurgent onslaught that threatens to destroy the country.

Walgreen Co (WAG.N) shares declined 1.7% after the largest US drugstore chain reported its third-quarter results.

Exxon Mobil Corp. fell 1.6% and Pioneer Natural Resources Co. slumped 4.8% as energy shares led declines. Intercontinental Exchange Inc. fell 4% after an analyst downgraded the stock.

Elizabeth Arden Inc. fell 3.1% after the maker of Elizabeth Taylor and Britney Spears perfumes announced a restructuring programme that will eliminate jobs and shut its Puerto Rico affiliate.

Intercontinental Exchange fell 4% for the biggest drop since May after Wells Fargo Securities cut the rating on the second-largest operator of security exchanges to the equivalent of hold from the equivalent of buy.

Biotech shares were a bright spot, buoyed by a 40.4% surge in Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc (VRTX.O) after the company said a combination of drugs designed to treat cystic fibrosis succeeded in improving lung function in a pair of closely watched late-stage clinical trials.

In Asia, shares declined on Wednesday in morning trade, led by material shares, as escalating violence in Iraq sapped demand for riskier assets.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.2% to 145 as of 10:51 a.m. in Tokyo. Japan’s Topix index fell 0.2%. South Korea’s Kospi index retreated 0.4%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 0.6%, while New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index slipped 0.1%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was little changed and the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.5%. Taiwan’s Taiex index fell 0.1%. Singapore’s Straits Times Index added 0.1%.

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