Swiss franc consolidates after rallying hard on North Korea tensions

Security Advisers of S. Korea US Promise Collaboration against N. Korea

Trump warned North Korea again on Thursday not to strike Guam or USA allies, saying his earlier threat to unleash "fire and fury" on Pyongyang if it launched an attack may not have been tough enough.

In the morning hours, the benchmark was on the path to suffer its biggest percentage decline in almost two weeks. Mainland markets also traded below the flat line, with the Shanghai Composite slipping 0.18% and the Shenzhen Composite lower by 0.14%.

Companies in the retail space in the United States could be of high interest in today's trading following their pre-market earnings releases.

The technology sector was the S&P's biggest drag with a 2.2 percent drop.

The Nikkei dropped 1.3 percent to 19,738.71, the weakest closing level since May 31, but defence equipment makers attracted buyers, with Ishikawa Seisakusho soaring 5.0 percent, Howa Machinery rising 1.1 percent and Tokyo Keiki advancing 1.4 percent.

U.S. equities steepened their losses late in the session after President Donald Trump said his earlier warnings to North Korea may not have been tough enough.

South Korea is monitoring "possible provocation" by North Korea after Pyongyang warned of missile strikes against the American Guam island in the Pacific, Seoul's Unification Ministry said on Wednesday.

"I think the muted reaction in the market has to do with Trump not necessarily following up on his tough talk", Pavlik said.

The VIX rose further on Wednesday, rising as far as 12.11, its highest in nearly a month.

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Gold prices held steady after touching their highest in more than two months on Friday and were on track for a weekly gain, buoyed as rising tension between the USA and North Korea triggered safe-haven buying.

European stocks slipped sharply on Wednesday as tensions between the United States and North Korea continued escalating.

JJ Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade, said geopolitics had "splashed cold water on the markets".

In 3.23pm trading in NY, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up 0.7 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 1.8 percent. The Russell 2000 index gave up 1.7 percent to 1,372.54.

10-Year Treasury Yield 2.24% -0.01%.

The Nasdaq Composite was down 37.30 points, or 0.59 percent, at 6,315.03. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 13.20 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,396.95.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 35 cents to $49.04 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price worldwide oils, gained 56 cents to $52.70 in London. The September copper contract was down two cents to US$2.91 a pound.

CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 110.00 yen from 110.06 late Wednesday in Asia.