Safe-Haven Currencies Rise as North Korea Tensions Brew

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The Swiss franc was on track for its biggest daily gain against the euro since the Swiss National Bank removed its cap on the currency in January 2015.

Escalating tensions over North Korea's nuclear ambitions rattled investors Thursday, helping to pull global share benchmarks lower.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 204.69 points, or 0.93 percent, to close at 21,844.01, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 35.81 points, or 1.45 percent, to 2,438.21 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 135.46 points, or 2.13 percent, to 6,216.87.

Australian stocks led regional markets lower this morning: The ASX dipped by 1.5% as major banks led the falls.

North Korea said it was completing plans to fire four intermediate-range missiles over Japan to land near the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam in an unusually detailed threat. Japan and South Korea vowed a strong reaction if the North were to go through with the plan. U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Pyongyang it should stop any actions that would lead to the "end of its regime and the destruction of its people". The risk-off tone triggered by the increase in tension between the USA and North Korea yesterday picked back up during today's U.S. session. Discovery Communications fell 94 cents, or 3.9 percent, to $23.36.

Internet, computer hardware, retail, and financial stocks are also seeing considerable weakness, moving lower along with most of the other major sectors. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 tumbled 1.3 percent to 19,738.71 while Seoul's Kospi fell 1.1 percent to 2,368.39.

Outside of geopolitical concerns, disappointing company earnings and outlooks put traders in a selling mood. The stock fell $2.25 to $20.79.

Nevertheless, APRN is down 12.7% in pre-market trading, headed for a record low.

The euro bought $1.1739, compared with $1.1760 late Wednesday in NY. The dollar was down 1.2 percent at 0.9627 Swiss francs, while an ounce of gold was 1 percent higher at $1,275.

More news: Dow streak of records ends amid US-North Korea tensions

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 2.25 percent from 2.26 percent late Tuesday.

OIL: Crude oil gave up early gains.

South Korea's won dropped 0.9 per cent against the United States dollar to its lowest close since July 13.

Manuel Oliveri of Credit Agricole said about the single currency,"The euro has become more correlated to risk in recent weeks and sentiment is still a bit cautious", adding "though the euro upside trend is likely to remain intact over the longer term".

Oil prices edged higher after a report showed USA refineries processed record amounts of crude in the latest week, eating into inventories, although a surprise jump in gasoline stockpiles limited gains. Silver gained 47 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $16.86 an ounce. Wholesale gasoline was little changed at $1.62 a gallon, heating oil rose 2 cents to $1.65 a gallon and natural gas rose 6 cents to $2.88 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The Swiss franc faired much the same fate for the same reasons and was fairly flat overnight. Humana rose $3.59, or 1.4 percent, to $253.81.

The latest US CPI data will also be an important market focus on Friday and there will be a constant threat of choppy trading conditions given a lack of liquidity. Germany's DAX fell 1.1 percent, while the CAC 40 in France lost 0.6 percent.

The last time the S&P closed down more than 1 percent was May 17.

The dollar index .DXY , which measures the USA currency against a basket of other major currencies, fell 0.14 percent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged down almost 0.1 percent.

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