Wall St opens lower as N.Korea tensions escalate

Wall St opens lower as N.Korea tensions escalate

Wall St opens lower as N.Korea tensions escalate

US stocks closed lower for the third day in a row Thursday, led by declines in technology companies and banks, two of the highest-performing sectors over the a year ago.

In the first four days of the week, the Standard & Poor's 500 index swung from marking its latest record high to posting its biggest single-day drop in almost three months.

The rhetoric between the United States and North Korea has continued to heat up, leading traders to look to safe havens such as gold and treasuries.

China weighed in on the standoff late Thursday, saying in an editorial in state-run Global Times (http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1060791.shtml) that Beijing will intervene if the US strikes first against North Korea.

Among other markets, oil prices advanced after a US Department of Energy report showed lower oil inventories.

The S&P 500 lost 5.99 points, or 0.24 percent, to close at 2,474.92 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 13.31 points, or 0.21 percent, to 6,370.46.

Still, the main indexes have not yet recouped losses sustained over a three-day stretch of red ink earlier this week. The Dow Jones industrials average gained 14.31 points, or 0.1 percent, to 21,858.32. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 1.69 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,374.23. "But if investors are positioned for this already, you are going to need something more to give it significant legs as some might be tempted to buy the dip", he added.

Shares of Michael Kors (KORS.N) jumped 22.3 percent, helping to boost the consumer discretionary index.SPLRCD, after the luxury goods maker raised its full-year revenue forecast.

The CBOE Volatility Index, the most widely followed barometer of expected near-term stock market volatility, was up as much as 12.63 points, its highest in more than a month.

"It's awesome when you consider the headlines just how calm the equity markets are, how they've taken things in their stride", said Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist at LPL Financial in Charlotte, North Carolina.

World stock markets slid Wednesday as worries about US-North Korea tensions sent traders fleeing to safe-haven investments.

Tillerson's tone was in sharp contrast to that of USA president Donald Trump, who warned on Tuesday any North Korean threat to the United States would be met with "fire and fury".

Trump, whose threat this week to bring "fire and fury" was dismissed by North Korea, said Thursday that statement might not have been "tough enough".

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North Korea claimed "only absolute force" can work on someone as "bereft of reason" as Trump and detailed plans to fire a salvo of missiles into waters around the US Pacific territory of Guam.

Still, there were fewer signs of anxiousness in the markets Friday.

"It looks like a technical correction, but if there's more bad news in the days to come, or if geopolitical tensions escalate, this short-term correction could become a major correction for stock markets here and globally", CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang said. It's still the highest it's been since May.

Away from the geopolitical drama, USA inflation data is due at 1330 GMT.

Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley will make an appearance later in the day and his comments will be parsed for clues regarding the future pace of interest rate hikes.

Oil stocks were feeling the additional weight of lower oil prices, which were down about 1%.

Macy's slumped 4.3 percent after reporting its 10th straight decline in a key sales measure. The stock lost 78 cents to $3.93.

USA crude was down 0.9 percent at $48.16 per barrel, on track for a weekly loss of 2.9 percent.

Canadian Tire Corp Ltd rose 3.4 percent to C$146.65. Natural gas was also flat at $2.98 per 1,000 cubic feet. The strength in the sector comes as gold for December delivery is jumping USD11.30 to USD1,290.60 an ounce.

Wilmar International slipped 6.4 per cent or 22 cents to $3.20; Hongkong Land lost 2.1 per cent or 16 USA cents to US$7.34.

The dollar slipped to 109.04 yen from 109.26 late Thursday. The euro strengthened to $1.1756 from $1.1752. Britain's FTSE 100 was down 1.1 percent. The index has fallen to its lowest intraday level in nearly a month.

The technology sector was the S&P's biggest drag with a 2.2 percent drop. Japan was closed on a public holiday. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dropped 1.2 percent.

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