Markets Right Now: Stocks drift lower on Wall Street

At 10:43 a.m. ET (1443 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 52.43 points, or 0.24 percent, at 22,032.91, the S&P 500 was down 5.29 points, or 0.21 percent, at 2,469.63. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson later insisted the USA isn't signalling it's about to mete out a military response despite threats from North Korea suggesting it could attack Guam, a US island territory in the Pacific.

Nervous investors drove shares lower earlier in the week, after President Trump declared Tuesday that the USA would react with "fire and fury" to further nuclear provocations from North Korea.

The Fed expects "very weak" US inflation to rebound thanks to a slide in the dollar and to a labour market that keeps getting hotter, one of the Fed's most influential officials said in comments that reinforce its gradual policy-tightening plan.

The ongoing standoff between North Korea and America has seen gold rise to a two-month high. Trump's comments came after a Washington Post report (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/north-korea-now-making-missile-ready-nuclear-weapons-us-analysts-say/2017/08/08/e14b882a-7b6b-11e7-9d08-b79f191668ed_story.html?utm_term=.0938becb046e) that North Korea has built a miniaturized nuclear warhead.

Overall, the healthcare sector slumped 3.4 percent.

The drop by Disney comes after the company reported fiscal third quarter earnings that came in above estimates but on weaker than expected revenues.

The Labor Department said its producer price index for final demand edged down by 0.1% in July after inching up by 0.1% in June. Economists had expected productivity to increase by 0.7%. The index has fallen to its lowest intraday level in well over a month.

Extending a recent downtrend, oil service stocks have moved significantly lower over the course of the session.

In commodities trading, USA crude oil was wallowing around $49 to the barrel amid speculation that a predicted gain in American output will offset OPEC-led efforts to trim a global glut.

Considerable weakness is also visible among tobacco stocks, as reflected by the 1.1% drop by the NYSE Arca Tobacco Index.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Wednesday.

United States stocks ended lower on Thursday, and Asian markets fell sharply, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropping 2%. Prices for bonds and gold headed higher. While the UK's FTSE 100 Index slid by 0.6%, the German DAX Index slumped by 1.1% and the French CAC 40 Index tumbled by 1.4%.

On Thursday the greenback had shed 0.8 percent versus the yen, with the Japanese currency rallying broadly against most major currencies. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 1.5 basis points at 2.226%.

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