Shares, dollar slip as US-North Korea tensions escalate


Wall Street saw a stock sell-off on Thursday as rising tensions between the US and North Korea filled investors with worry.

The Korean won also continued to skid, down 0.45 per cent to 1,147.2, falling below its 200-day moving average for the first time in a month.

Asian and USA equity markets had extended their sell-off overnight as a war of words between the US and North Korea intensified.

"If the market truly believed the North Korea reaction was imminent, I think it would be down a lot more than it is", said Alan Skrainka, chief investment officer at Cornerstone Wealth Management.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 36 points, or 0.2 percent, to 22,048.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index plunged by 2 percent, while South Korea's Kospi Index slumped by 1.7 percent.

The Nasdaq Composite was down 115.35 points, or 1.82 percent, at 6,236.98.

On the currency front, the US dollar is trading at 108.82 yen compared to the 109.20 yen it fetched at the close of NY trading on Thursday.

"Japanese equities hadn't been rising much despite positive earnings results, so investors had started jumping at shadows, doubting whether they should really be holdings onto Japanese stocks". It has been the leading S&P gainer so far this year, making it particularly vulnerable to a decline. The Nasdaq composite lost 18 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,352.

Trump's threats have escalated since reports broke at the beginning of the week that North Korea had successfully produced a nuclear warhead that could be fitted inside its missiles.

Shares in Dixons Carphone sank after Exane BNP Paribas downgraded the stock from "outperform" to "underperform" on concerns about changes in the mobile phone market, including fewer customers upgrading to new phones and the unbundling of handset and network contracts. The release hurt gold demand, as a stronger dollar makes commodities more expensive for buyers using weaker currencies. It's still the highest it's been since May.

News that United States producer prices unexpectedly fell in July earlier helped send the dollar lower. Economists had expected prices to rise by 0.2 percent.

Stocks in London are seen opening lower on Friday as investors keep a wary eye on heated rhetoric between the U.S. and North Korea, while in corporate news Old Mutual reported a substantial rise in interim profit. They will be looking for further clues about interest rate hikes from the US Federal Reserve later this year. But some economists say the Fed may stand pat for the rest of 2017 unless inflation accelerates in coming months. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, fell by 2.9 basis points to 2.212 percent.

US crude oil crude futures edged up 5 cents to $48.64 per barrel.

Oil prices edged higher after a report showed U.S. refineries processed record amounts of crude in the latest week, eating into inventories, although a surprise jump in gasoline stockpiles limited gains.