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Wall Street falls on ramp-up of U.S. tension with North Korea

12 Août 2017

Following the sell-off seen in the previous session, stocks may regain some ground in early trading on Friday.

In the first four days of the week, the Standard & Poor's 500 index swung from marking its latest record high to posting its biggest single-day drop in almost three months.

After a dip of as much as 0.52 percent earlier in the day, investors appeared to take some comfort in Tillerson's comments, said Richard Steinberg, managing director at HighTower Advisors in NY.

The S&P 500 dropped 1.4% to 2438.21, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 204.69 points, or 0.9%, to 21,844.01.

But according to ICBC Standard Bank's Yuichi Ikemizu, the dollar is still weak and on a downtrend, which could help gold prices inch higher in the short term. That "looks high enough to be consistent with a 5 percent-plus pace for real GDP growth", said Jim O'Sullivan of High Frequency Economics in a report. Over the next three months, the average gain has been good but not great - +1.15%. Core PPI was also down 0.1%, missing the 0.2% estimate.

A small rise in a measure of U.S. consumer prices pointed to benign inflation that could make the Federal Reserve cautious about raising interest rates again this year, which would be favourable to equity investors.

Tensions between the USA and North Korea continued to simmer early Friday.

Almost $1 trillion has been wiped out from global equity markets since Trump's vow on Tuesday to unleash "fire and fury" on North Korea if it threatens the United States.

"It's surprising that given Japan's proximity to North Korea the yen is seeing any benefit from risk aversion", said Lennon Sweeting, chief market strategist for XE.com, in Toronto.

Trump continued to ramp up the rhetoric with a post on Twitter this morning indicating that the USA is prepared to take military action against North Korea. "The unpredictable nature of North Korea means it is hard to gauge exactly how likely an attack is".

North Korea responded with a statement by its official KCNA news agency claiming Trump is "driving" the Korean peninsula to the "brink of a nuclear war". The stock was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500, adding $8.02 to $45.25.

The market indexes wavered between small gains and losses for much of the morning, then veered lower by afternoon.

Materials, a sector that includes gold producers and other resource-based companies, was the lone gainer among the index's 10 main sectors, rising 0.7 per cent. Energy stocks also fell as crude oil prices headed lower.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region saw continued weakness during trading on Friday. The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 1%, while benchmarks in Hong Kong and South Korea - which had been one of the best performers of 2017 - closed down 2% and 1.7% respectively, Friday, putting the week's drop at 2.5% and 3.2%. Japan was closed on a public holiday. Banks and department store shares also were among the big decliners.

Germany's DAX and France's CAC 40 dropped 0.7% in early trading, while London's FTSE 100 shed 0.5%.

Wall Street falls on ramp-up of U.S. tension with North Korea