February 19, 2018

N. Korea nerves push stocks down for third day

12 August 2017, 12:24 | Brandon Parsons

Gold Prices Hit 2-Month Highs, Defensive Demand Continues

US stocks slide amid heightened US-North Korea tensions

USA stocks fell sharply on Thursday, with the Dow slipping more than 100 points, as lackluster results from retailers Macy's and Kohl's added to investor nervousness over escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea.

A slight rise in a measure of US consumer prices pointed to benign inflation that could make the Federal Reserve cautious about raising interest rates again this year, which would be favourable to equity investors.

"The data confirms the Fed will have a wait-and-see attitude", said King Lip, chief investment officer at Baker Avenue Asset Management in San Francisco.

Reuters data show a 22 per cent perceived chance for a rate increase after the Fed's December meeting.

The index ended up 4.93 points at 16.04, the highest level since November 8, when Trump was elected president.

Late in the afternoon, Trump told reporters that his "fire and fury" warning to North Korea may not have been tough enough.

US President Donald Trump issued a new threat to North Korea, saying American weapons were "locked and loaded" as Pyongyang accused him of driving the Korean Peninsula to the brink of nuclear war. It is poised to end the week down 1.3 percent.

At 11:03 a.m. ET (1503 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 110.36 points, or 0.5 percent, at 21,938.34, the S&P 500 .SPX was down 19.12 points, or 0.77 percent, at 2,454.90.

The S&P 500 has hadn't a single day move of more than 0.5 percent since mid-July and has fallen more than 1 percent only twice this year.

Chinese bluechips lost 0.75 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng was 1.6 percent lower.

In Asia, several indexes closed lower overnight.

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Equity markets had traded with a soft tone in Europe and there was a sharp increase in selling pressure in NY with the S&P 500 index declining by close to 1.0%.

"Pretty remarkable, perhaps even extraordinary, considering", said Tim Ash, strategist at fund manager BlueBay.

"We're not very oversold yet so the market still has more downside left to it".

Until this week, the equity market had managed to shake off negative news, including previous saber-rattling over North Korea and failures in Washington to pass high-profile bills, such as repealing and replacing Obamacare.

The precious metal is often seen as a safe haven for investors during times of uncertainty.

Gains among technology companies helped snap a three-day losing streak for USA stocks Friday, though the market ended with its worst weekly loss since March.

Markets had seen a tentative recovery in risk appetite in United States and early Asian trading, but as the war of words resumed Asian stocks dropped back and London, Frankfurt and Paris all lost 0.5 to 1.2 per cent.

Sterling was last trading at $1.3013, up 0.30 percent on the day. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 tumbled 1.3 percent to 19,738.71 while Seoul's Kospi fell 1.1 percent to 2,368.39. "There are four more (inflation) prints between now and the December FOMC meeting and we expect the Fed to remain data-dependent, if a touch more cautious", TD Securities said in a note. The 30-year bond was last up 4/32 in price to yield 2.7871 per cent, from 2.794 per cent late on Thursday.

USA 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.

The market's main backstop in times of strain, gold, hit a two-month high of $1,282 an ounce amid the nervousness.

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