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Korean tensions keep yen near eight-week highs

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Major earnings and North Korea worries set to claim the limelight on Wall Street

Spot gold had eased 0.1 per cent to $1,276.40 per ounce at 0322 GMT.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 inched down less than 0.1 percent to finish at 19,729.74.

The hope that the Fed will have to slow its rate increases appeared to stop, at least for now, the near US$1 trillion loss in world stocks valuations this week triggered by the war of words between Pyongyang and Washington.

Trump continued to ramp up the rhetoric with a post on Twitter this morning indicating that the United States is prepared to take military action against North Korea.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 39.75 points, or 0.67 percent, on volume of 53,600 contracts.

North Korea said it was completing plans to fire four intermediate-range missiles over Japan to land near the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam in an unusually detailed threat that further heightened tensions with the United States.

Stocks rose as market bulls saw a buying opportunity after the threat of North Korea pulled Wall Street lower for three days straight.

The reclusive state raised the stakes further on Thursday with a detailed plan to send a salvo of missiles towards the USA territory of Guam.

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The dollar index, which measures against a basket of currencies, fell 0.05 percent. Futures on the S&P 500 Index (SPX) and Nasdaq-100 Index (NDX) are lower, as well, in what could be a third straight loss for USA stocks.

"Tensions will continue to mount and could eventually develop into a "black swan" event that the markets are not prudently considering", said Steve Hanke, professor of Applied Economics at America's Johns Hopkins University.

FED WATCH: As well as monitoring the geopolitical backdrop, investors are looking ahead to an appearance Thursday by Bill Dudley, president of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of NY, for signs of the Fed's outlook on the economy. The Nasdaq lost 135 points, or 2.1 percent, to 6,216. They are looking for confirmation that the Fed is sticking with plans for a possible December interest rate hike.

The Stoxx Europe 600 was down 1% in afternoon trade, while futures signaled the S&P 500 would open down 0.2% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average would open 0.1% lower. "What's happened in North Korea is enough to do that".

The CBOE Volatility Index, the most widely followed barometer of expected near-term stock market volatility, was up as much as 12.63 points, its highest in more than a month.

South Korea's KOSPI fell 1.4 percent, taking its losses this week to almost 3 percent.

USA crude (CLc1) was unchanged at $48.59 per barrel and Brent (LCOc1) was last at $51.84, down 1.63 percent on the day.

Ongoing global glut concerns lingered in oil markets despite a bigger-than-expected draw in USA crude inventories, leaving prices volatile.

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