Jittery stock markets fall amid global tension over North Korea

Jittery stock markets fall amid global tension over North Korea

Gold prices held steady after touching their highest in more than two months on Friday, as rising tensions between the United States and North Korea triggered safe-haven buying.

Tension has reached a new high recently as North Korea is stepping up saber-rattling after the UNSC adopted Resolution 2371 that includes a complete ban on its exports of coal, deemed to be a major source of money channeled into its weapons program.

Across Europe, the Cac 40 in France slid 1.1% while Germany's Dax was flat. Utilities eked out a small gain.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .dji was down 82.37 points, or 0.37 percent, to 22,002.97, the S&P 500 .spx had lost 8.34 points, or 0.34 percent, to 2,466.58 and the Nasdaq Composite .ixic had dropped 38.99 points, or 0.61 percent, to 6,331.47.

Heavyweight Apple could have provided some support for trading with a 0.8 percent rise in prices.

Outside the political arena, declines in a pair of technology stocks added to the cautious tone on the day.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan skidded 1.55%, its biggest one-day loss since mid-December. All the indexes are down for the week. Of those, 52 percent delivered earnings and revenue that beat financial analysts' forecasts, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. It has been the leading S&P gainer so far this year, making it particularly vulnerable to a decline.

U.S. dairy group Dean Foods dropped nearly 21 percent as its quarterly earnings fell, and the stock received a downgrade from JPMorgan.

Markets saw a tentative recovery in risk appetite in overnight USA and early Asian trading, but anxiety mounted again as Asian stocks fell back and London, Frankfurt and Paris dropped 0.5-1.2 percent in Europe. The fact that ended with a 1%-plus drop, however, might be good news. Also, the figures and forecasts of auto rental company Avis were disappointing and that share trimmed 10 percent.

TIME OUT: Fossil tumbled 23.7 percent after the watch maker said sales continued to weaken, falling short of analysts' estimates. The stock lost $142.20 to $1,906.80.

J.C. Penney slumped 24.4 percent to a record low after the retailer reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss. Its shares slid $11.64 to $61.70. Rival Advanced Micro Devices was also down 2.6 percent.

Oil prices closed lower after an early rally faded. Brent crude was up 30 cents at $53.00 a barrel.

The US Energy Information Administration raised its 2017 and 2018 US crude output estimates to 9.9 million and 9.33 million barrels a day respectively, Weston said, but "on the other hand, we are hearing the UAE, Kazakhstan and Iraq will fully comply with the OPEC agreement" to cut oversupply. Wholesale gasoline dropped 2 cents to $1.60 a gallon, while heating oil shed 2 cents to $1.63 a gallon. TMX Group Ltd was up 3.5 percent to C$68.23, while Quebecor Inc added 2.9 percent to C$44.60. Silver gained 20 cents, or 1.2 per cent, to $17.07 an ounce. The September copper contract was down two cents to US$2.91 a pound. The euro rose to $1.1753 from $1.1752. It's also called the fear index. The stock fell $1.07 to $5.17.

He said the crisis provided a "perfect trigger" for a correction at a time when many markets - including the FTSE 100 - were at or around record highs, leaving them vulnerable to a sell-off if investors think it is time to take profits. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was off 0.3 percent.

The dollar index.DXY was trading 0.2 percent up at 93.73. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged down almost 0.1 percent.

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