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Shares, dollar slip as US-North Korea tensions escalate

13 August 2017, 09:21 | Melvin Schneider

Shares, dollar slip as US-North Korea tensions escalate

Closing Indexes Summary August 10

In his latest warning to North Korea, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday military solutions were "fully in place" and referred to American weapons as being "locked and loaded" should the nuclear-armed nation act "unwisely".

The Swiss franc, by contrast, was on track for its biggest single-day rise in more than 2 1/2 years.

In a note sent to clients late on Thursday, the USA bank predicted the single currency would rise to $1.25 in the first quarter of next year and reach parity with sterling for the first time.

The major European markets are also extending a recent move to the downside. "But with the rhetoric having gone to a different level, the market just can't afford to take that risk".

Politics lifted US defense stocks.

Wall Street's widely followed measure of market anxiety, the CBOE Volatility index, was up 0.79 points at 16.77 on Friday, its highest since November. The euro zone's version is at its highest since April, when France's election was rattling the region.

US gold futures for December delivery rose 0.2 percent to $1,291.80 per ounce.

Corporate Earnings Chart August 10
Data courtesy of Trade-Alert

The ongoing political crisis that has seen North Korea state it was seeking to strike the US Pacific island territory of Guam within days, prompted gold speculator Dennis Gartman, editor and publisher of The Gartman Letter to say he believed gold was on the cusp on a significant break out.

The North Korea situation isn't the only thing weighing on stocks. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 share index closed down 1.3% at its lowest since June 1 as the strong yen hit exporters, while South Korea's KOSPI index fell 1.1% to seven-week lows. "Pretty remarkable, perhaps even extraordinary, considering", said Tim Ash, strategist at fund manager BlueBay.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 added 0.21%. Chinese blue chips closed flat but Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was last down 0.2 per cent. They suggest the USA and China, a North Korean ally, could work together to de-escalate the situation.

Gold hit its highest levels in two months on Thursday as the USA and North Korea exchanged more threats, prompting investors to buy bullion as a safe-haven asset. Gold climbed 1.3% in the previous session, its biggest gain since mid-May. Debt markets are little changed, but US Treasuries are a little firmer.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 123 points, or 0.6 percent, to 21,923.

Retailers were also falling Thursday. Britain's FTSE 100 sank 1.3 percent.

The market was also waiting for United States inflation data on Friday that would offer clues about the extent to which the strengthening United States labour market is spilling over into inflation. "Should we see another dip in inflation in July, it could make the job of building a consensus for another rate hike this year more hard".

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