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US stocks slip as North Korea tensions mount

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Dow Jones Industrial Average

US stocks closed barely down on Wednesday as investors appeared to turn their focus away from North Korea-related geopolitical tension that weighed on equities for most of the session.

If the North Korean regime "does anything" to the USA or a USA ally "things will happen to them like they never thought possible", he told reporters on Thursday, according to Bloomberg. The Dow is up 34.62 points or 0.2% at 21,878.63, the Nasdaq is up 25.62 points or 0.4% at 6,242.49 and the S&P 500 is up 4.36 points or 0.2% at 2,442.57.

Japanese markets were closed for a holiday but the tense mood dragged Asian shares lower and an MSCI index of stocks across the globe was on track to post its largest weekly drop since the week before Donald Trump won the US presidential election in November.

European markets opened lower on Friday on the back of war of words and escalating geopolitical tensions between the United States and North Korea.

Investors have been jittery about North Korea since Tuesday when Trump said any threats from Pyongyang would be "met with fire and fury like the world has never seen".

The recovery fit a recent pattern of investors using dips to put more money in stocks. The selling was also in response to lower prices in Asia and Europe.

"From a geopolitical perspective, we understand why the escalation in tensions will have shaken some of the complacency out of investors", said Eric Wiegand, senior portfolio manager at U.S. Bank Private Client Wealth Management. The S&P has lost more than 1 percent on only three days this year.

Earlier on Thursday, North Korea revealed a plan to launch ballistic missiles toward a major USA military hub in the Pacific.

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Investors also drew some encouragement from new government data showing USA inflation at the consumer level inched higher last month. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 4.02 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,410.15.

Avis Budget Group slumped 9.9 percent after the vehicle rental company cut its guidance following a weak second quarter.

The September crude contract was up 20 cents to US$49.76 per barrel and the September natural gas contract was up seven cents to US$2.95 per mmBTU.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 2.19 percent from 2.20 percent late Thursday. The euro fell to $1.1791 from $1.1774.

Germany's DAX was flat, while France's CAC 40 fell 1.1 percent.

For the week, the Dow is down 1.1%, its biggest one-week drop since November.

To that end, gold prices shot up to near $1,300 an ounce - their highest level in several months.

The FTSE 100 has fallen by more than 100 points in today's trading so far, as investors continue to act on North Korea-related jitters.

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