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Asian stocks slide on Wall Street drop, Iraq violence

HONG KONG – Most Asian stock markets slumped Wednesday after Wall Street had its biggest decline in two weeks and ongoing violence in Iraq dampened sentiment.

Asian investors took their lead from Wall Street, where U.S. blue-chip bank and energy stocks led a sell-off in the final hour of the trading session. A report that new U.S. home sales rose in May to the highest in six years helped homebuilders but wasn’t enough to lift the broader market.

Investors were also prompted to cash in their gains after fresh reports of violence in Iraq, including unconfirmed airstrikes by Syrian warplanes, that raised fears that the conflict could spiral into a broader regional conflict.

“Fresh geopolitical concerns in Iraq may have given investors the perfect excuse to take profits off the table,” said Desmond Chua, market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 slipped 0.5 percent to 15,295.65 while South Korea’s Kospi dropped 0.6 percent to 1,983.66.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added edged 0.1 percent higher to 22,905.11 while in mainland China the Shanghai Composite Index gained lost 0.5 percent to 2,023.65. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.7 percent to 5,396.70.

On Wall Street, the Dow fell 0.7 percent to close at 16,818.13 and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 0.6 percent to 1,949.98. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.4 percent to 4,350.36.

In energy trading, the price of U.S. benchmark crude for August delivery rose 70 cents to $106.73 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dropped 66 cents to $106.17 on Monday.

In currencies, the dollar edged up to 101.90 Japanese yen from 101.94 in late trading Monday. The euro rose to $1.3608 from $1.3604.