The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond fell to 2.2% and is approaching its lowest level of the year.
MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.77 percent, on track for its third straight day of declines as it pulled further back from all-time highs. They outweighed gains in health care stocks and elsewhere.
The Dow fell as many as 88 points on Wednesday, before ending down just 37 points.
The Swiss franc eased versus the dollar on Thursday, but still held on to the bulk of hefty gains made the previous day as heightened tensions between the United States and North Korea sent investors looking for havens. But by the end of the day, traders appeared to take the geopolitical drama in stride.
South Korean stocks opened lower Wednesday as rising tensions over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs weighed on the main index.
SIMMERING TENSIONS: North Korea revealed on Thursday a detailed plan to launch a salvo of ballistic missiles toward the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, a major military hub and home to U.S. bombers.
Most Asian currencies stumbled, with the Korean won on pace for its biggest fall in almost eight weeks as North Korea warned it is "carefully examining" plans for a missile strike on the US Pacific territory of Guam. But the moves were modest. Gold jumped 0.9% to $1,291.10 a troy ounce, while the Japanese yen strengthened 0.7% against the dollar. Its shares slid $9.77, or 5.3 percent, to $174.02.More news: China sets world record, sends unbreakable code from satellite to Earth
While the tough talk about the potential for war is scary, investors have heard it many times before.
Geopolitical woes between the United States and North Korea escalated overnight following announcements by the presidents of both countries.
At the very least I think the last three days show that the market's character has changed from indifference to something more emotional.
Beyond geopolitical concerns, investors continued to size up company earnings reports.
Priceline Group slid 6.9 percent after the online travel booking service issued a profit forecast that was weaker than analysts were expecting.
The pan-European STOXX 600 was down 0.7% at closing, France's CAC 40 fell 1.4% after a vehicle hit a group of soldiers in Paris in what is thought to have been a deliberate act, and a fall in bond yields saw Germany's DAX down 1.1%. The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.2 per cent to 3,275.57 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was off 0.3 per cent at 27,757.09.
USA crude was down 0.9 per cent at US$48.16 per barrel, on track for a weekly loss of 2.9 per cent. Brent crude, used to price worldwide oils, added 59 cents to $53.29.