Futures lower as N.Korea tensions extend to third day

By Kimberly Chin

The broad-based S&P 500 was hit even harder, dropping 1.5 percent to close at 2,438.22, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index lost 2.2 percent 6,216.87.

With the tense mood pushing European shares down for a third day and Wall Street set to fall again, global stocks were on course for their worst week since Donald Trump won November's US presidential election.

Trading volume also picked up in the late afternoon of what had been a sleepy summer session while the U.S. Congress is expected to be in recess until Sept 5.

Perrigo was up 9.5 percent after the company raised its full-year adjusted earnings forecast. Secretary of state Rex Tillerson said yesterday North Korea posed no "immediate threat" and that "Americans should sleep well at night, have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days". And in a Friday morning post on social media site Twitter, Trump wrote: "Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely".

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

"What has changed this time is that the scary threats and war of words between the US and North Korea have intensified to the point that markets can't ignore it", said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital in Sydney.

Instead, investors headed for safe havens, such as gold, which gained as much as 1.2% - a near two-month high - in Wednesday trading.

North Korea has since threatened to launch missiles at the US territory of Guam, and the country previously threatened "all-out war, wiping out all the strongholds of enemies, including the USA mainland". While the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.6%, the German DAX Index slumped by 1.1% and the UK's FTSE 100 Index plunged by 1.4%. The nuclear-armed nation said it was finalizing plans to fire four intermediate-range missiles over Japan to land 18-25 miles from Guam.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 71 points, or 0.3 percent, to 22,013.

The S&P 500 is down 38.62 points, or 1.6 percent.

The CBOE Volatility Index, better known as the VIX and the most widely-followed barometer of expected near-term stock market volatility, closed at 10.96, its highest in about a month.

The Labor Department said its producer price index for final demand edged down by 0.1 percent in July after inching up by 0.1 percent in June.

The news was also greeted with dismay by traders in Asia, with Tokyo down 1.3 percent, Hong Kong losing 0.4 percent and Seoul registering a 1.1-percent decline.

The dollar index fell 0.3 percent, with the euro up 0.36 percent to $1.1812.

The focus on North Korea has largely overshadowed a Labor Department report showing an unexpected drop in USA producer prices in the month of July. Travel-review website operator TripAdvisor was down 2.7 percent.

USA crude oil +0.4% at $49.76/bbl.

Among economic data, the U.S. Labor Department is likely to report that initial jobless claims remained unchanged at 240,000 for the week ended August 5.

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