Tech companies lead worst day for stock market since May

Stocks around the world slid again Friday following an escalation of threats between the USA and North Korea, while investors contemplated an array of macroeconomic uncertainties.

Until this week, the equity market had managed to shake off negative news, including previous saber-rattling over North Korea and failures in Washington to pass high-profile bills, such as repealing and replacing Obamacare.

U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Thursday that he will respond forcefully to any North Korean attack on the U.S. or its allies. The S&P 500 added 3.11 points, or 0.1%, to 2441.32, ending the week down 1.4%, its biggest loss since March.

The Korean won fell against the USA dollar.

"Given the great run we've had, seems like some sort of pullback wouldn't be surprising", said Michael Baele, managing director of investments at U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management.

Macy's shares closed down 10.2 per cent and Kohl's fell nearly 6 per cent as the companies continued to report a drop in quarterly same-store sales, stoking concerns that their turnarounds may still be a long way off.

Stocks are falling in midday trading on Wall Street, led by declines in technology companies and banks. Core prices had also been expected to climb by 0.2 percent. On the Nasdaq, 1 378 issues rose and 892 fell.

Travel website operator Priceline fell 7.26 per cent, weighing the most on the S&P and the Nasdaq, following a disappointing forecast.

The Straits Times Index sank 1.31 per cent or 43.52 points to 3,279.72, down 1.4 per cent for the week. Meal kit company Blue Apron plunged 14.6 percent after reporting a decline in customers. The stock fell 76 cents to $5.48.

Investors opted for the perceived safety of US Treasuries, which pushed the yield on the 10-year note three basis points lower to 2.21%.

The Swiss franc was on track for its biggest single-day rise against the euro in more than 2 1/2 years.

The Federal Reserve's hint about unwinding balance sheets, the possibility of the European Central Bank tapering stimulus and the looming debate about the US debt ceiling in the fall challenge the market's recent performance, Mr. Baele said. Germany's DAX dipped 0.1 per cent as the CAC 40 fell 1.1 per cent in Paris. South Korea's Kospi fell 0.5 per cent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged down almost 0.1 per cent. Bent crude, the global benchmark, rose 19 cents to $52.33 a barrel.

CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 109.35 yen from 109.85 late Wednesday.

The euro dipped 0.1 per cent to $1.1733 but the single European currency has been slipping this week against the dollar, having hit a more than 2 1/2-year high of $1.1892 on August 2.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: Major indexes in Europe were headed lower.

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