FTSE 100 falls as N Korea tensions weigh on shares

FTSE 100 falls as N Korea tensions weigh on shares

FTSE 100 falls as N Korea tensions weigh on shares

USA stock indexes were set to open little changed on Friday, with the S&P 500 on track to post its biggest weekly loss in nine months, as investors remained cautious on heightened tensions between the United States and North Korea.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 5.99 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,474.92.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 1 points, or 0.02 percent, on volume of 49,062 contracts.

Global markets have lost almost US$1 trillion since USA president Donald Trump said on Tuesday that North Korea "will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen" and then dialed up his warning further on Thursday by saying he wasn't tough enough this week.

Significant strength was also visible among software stocks, as reflected by the 1.2% gain posted by the Dow Jones Software Index.

North Korea said it was completing plans to fire four intermediate-range missiles over Japan to land near the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam in an unusually detailed threat.

On the currency markets, sterling rose 0.2% to flit around the 1.30 U.S. dollar mark, with the greenback falling in response to the latest United States inflation data.

The data comes amid tepid inflation that has remained below the Fed's 2 percent target, despite low unemployment.

Investors piled into safe-haven assets such as USA government bonds, gold and the Japanese yen and sold off shares.

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The overall financials group, which accounts for roughly a third of the index, declined 1.4 percent, while energy shares also fell 1.4 percent as oil prices turned down.

After touching a more than two-month high at $1,291.86, spot gold last added 0.2 percent to $1,288.81 an ounce.

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.

"Of course it's all come at a time when share markets are due for a correction, so North Korea has provided a flawless trigger", he added.

Michael Kors climbed 21.5 percent after the luxury handbag and apparel designer and retailer's latest quarterly results beat analysts' forecasts as sales improved.

The dollar index fell 0.32 per cent, with the euro up 0.42 per cent to US$1.1819. Natural gas gained 2 cents to $2.82 per 1,000 cubic feet. On the Nasdaq, 2,303 issues fell and 567 advanced.

Benchmark U.S. 10-year notes last rose 6/32 in price to yield 2.1905 percent, from 2.211 percent late on Thursday.

The job openings data "were certainly the latest metric to highlight tightening labor market conditions in the USA and to that extent that's certainly a dollar-positive data", said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange in Washington. Crude briefly pared losses in late trading after USA inventories fell more than expected last week.

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