Asian stocks slump on profit-taking amid US-NKorea tensions

A street sign for Wall Street is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange in Manhattan New York City

In his latest warning to North Korea, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday military solutions were "fully in place" and referred to American weapons as being "locked and loaded" should the nuclear-armed nation act "unwisely".

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump warned North Korea of "fire and fury" in response to recent threats from Pyongyang, which said it was examining plans for attacking Guam, a US territory in the Pacific with a military base.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 2.20 percent from 2.25 percent late Wednesday.

Franco Nevada Corp rose 3.9 percent to C$95.65, while Barrick Gold Corp was up 1.9 percent at C$21.26.

The index was also dragged lower after Beijing ordered probes into three major Chinese social networking platforms over outlawed content.

Tensions between Washington and Pyongyang added to pressure from lower oil prices. The Nasdaq composite lost 37 points, or 0.6 percent, to 6,332.

GOT A PULSE: Health care stocks, which have been in a slump, were headed higher.

Unease over the situation pushed the VIX, a measure of how much volatility investors expect in stocks, up 44.4 percent. Nasdaq-100 futures slid 23 points, or 0.4%, to 5,895. Disappointing company earnings also helped pull the market lower, with consumer-focused companies and technology stocks among the biggest decliners.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "The tensions between North Korea and the U.S.is an excuse for profit-taking", Seo Sang Young, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 22 cents to $49.17 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Investors are losing enthusiasm for Canada's banking stocks as a slowdown in the country's housing market dents banks' growth prospects, with insurance companies seen as a better bet to benefit from higher interest rates.

The U.S. equity market is hovering near record levels and volume has been tepid following the onset of summer.

Computer hardware stocks rebounded following recent weakness, with the NYSE Arca Computer Hardware Index climbing by 1.4%. The September copper contract was down two cents to US$2.91 a pound.

LACKLUSTER QUARTER: Office Depot sank 24.5 percent after the office supply company's second-quarter results fell short of Wall Street's projections. Wholesale gasoline dropped 2 cents to $1.60 a gallon, while heating oil shed 2 cents to $1.63 a gallon. Silver gained 14 cents to $16.39 an ounce. The euro strengthened to $1.1756 from $1.1752.

The Labor Department said on Friday its Consumer Price Index edged up 0.1 percent in July, which was below the 0.2 percent rise expected by economists polled by Reuters.

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