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US stocks fall on Iraq worries

US stocks finished lower on Thursday (Aug 7) as advances by jihadists in Iraq trumped encouraging labour-market data and spurred talk of possible military action by the US.

NEW YORK: US stocks finished lower on Thursday (Aug 7) as advances by jihadists in Iraq trumped encouraging labour-market data and spurred talk of possible military action by the US.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 75.07 points (0.46 per cent) at 16,368.27. The broad-based S&P 500 fell 10.67 points (0.56 per cent) to 1,909.57, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index lost 20.08 points (0.46 per cent) at 4,334.97.

Brent Schutte, market strategist at BMO Global Asset Management, said Thursday's losses on Wall Street were "completely" due to a sharp worsening of conditions in Iraq.

Jihadists seized Qaraqosh, Iraq's largest Christian town, sending tens of thousands of panicked residents fleeing in one of the most dramatic developments of the two month-old conflict. US officials are reportedly considering air strikes in response to what the White House called a possible "humanitarian catastrophe."

Schutte said the Iraq news overshadowed a large decline in US jobless claims. "The Iraq situation has taken a turn probably for the worse," Schutte said. "The US is potentially going to get more involved because that Islamist group keeps making gains."

Entertainment giant 21st Century Fox rose 4.5 per cent as earnings of 42 cents per share surpassed expectations by three cents on strong ticket sales for its X-Men blockbuster and other big movies.

Netflix jumped 4.5 per cent as the company passed HBO in subscriber revenue last quarter in what chief executive Reed Hastings called a "minor milestone".

Solar energy company SunEdison soared 11.8 per cent higher as it reported adjusted profits of 12 cents per share, against a 28 cent loss projected by analysts.

Stratasys, which manufactures 3D printers, jumped 14.9 per cent after reporting earnings of 55 cents per share, 10 cents more than analysts expected. The company also raised its profit forecast on stronger sales.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury fell to 2.42 per cent from 2.47 per cent on Wednesday, while the 30-year dropped to 3.23 per cent from 3.28 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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