Wall Street falls on ramp-up of United States tension with North Korea

Wall Street falls on ramp-up of United States tension with North Korea

Wall Street falls on ramp-up of United States tension with North Korea

USA stocks were lower on Wednesday afternoon as investors rushed to safe-haven assets after President Donald Trump's "fire and fury" warning to North Korea escalated tensions with the nuclear-armed nation.

Stocks are opening slightly lower on Wall Street after several companies reported disappointing results.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan skidded 1.4 percent in its third session of declines to a near one-month low, heading for a 2.1 percent drop for the week. Netflix was down 1.8 percent. Japanese markets were closed for a holiday.

Even so, Wall Street remains near record highs.

Trump took specific aim at North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday, saying he had "disrespected our country greatly" and would not be "getting away with it". South Korea's Kospi fell 0.2 percent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 33.08 points, or 0.15 per cent, at 22,085.34, snapping a 9-day streak of closing records.

"Trump's comments about North Korea have created nervousness and the fear is if the president really means what he said "fire and fury".

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Politics also lifted USA defence stocks.

If the North Korean regime "does anything" to the USA or a United States ally "things will happen to them like they never thought possible", he told reporters on Thursday, according to Bloomberg.

Trump's second warning, however, has shaken markets that have been largely resilient this year, swatting away a slew of risks. The index has fallen to its lowest intraday level in well over a month. The S&P 500 lost six points, or 0.24%, to close at 2,475 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 13 points, or 0.21%, to 6,370.

More than 430 stocks from all USA exchanges hit their lowest levels in 52 weeks or more on Thursday, the most for any session since mid-November right after Trump was elected.

Bargain-seeking investors instead turned their focus to strength in the global economy and earnings toward the end of an active trading day.

CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 109.48 yen from 109.85 late Wednesday.

The VIX, a measure of how much volatility investors expect in stocks, jumped 10.4 percent.

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MARKETS OVERSEAS: Major indexes in Europe were headed lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.26 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have pulled back off their best levels but remain in positive territory.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 97 cents, or 2 percent, to $48.59 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

US producer prices unexpectedly fell in July, recording their biggest drop in almost a year, while another set showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week. Only utilities sector stocks eked out a gain on a day of mostly listless trading as investors kept an eye on the latest company earnings and geopolitical news.

And in a textbook-type cross-asset move toward safety in times of trouble, the Japanese yen hit an eight-week high against the US dollar while spot gold also reached a two-month high. They have soared over 2 percent in the previous two sessions, and are set for a weekly gain of 2.26 percent. Investors will study the numbers to get a feel for the US inflation trend and any impact the data could have on the Federal Reserve's monetary policy.

The Labor Department said its producer price index for final demand edged down by 0.1 percent in July after inching up by 0.1 percent in June.

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