"There's not a fundamental reason why what we're seeing out of North Korea right now should affect stock market prices, but it's being used as the reason to sell off right now because we've been looking for it for so long", Schiegoleit said.
Six of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the technology's .SPLRCT 0.36 percent rise leading the advancers.
The strength on Wall Street was partly due to bargain hunting, with traders picking up stocks at reduced levels following the pullback seen over the past few sessions.
Titled "Reckless game over the Korean Peninsula runs risk of real war", the editorial suggested China will stay neutral if North Korea strikes first, but will intervene if the U.S.is the first mover.
Energy stocks fell along with the price of crude oil.
The Canadian dollar was trading at 78.64 cents United States, down from an average price of 78.71 cents USA on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price global oils, gained 10 cents to $52.24 in London.
The market indexes wavered between small gains and losses for much of the morning, then veered lower by afternoon. The stock fell $1.10 to $5.14.
Data showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, but the underlying trend remained consistent with a tightening labor market.More news: Trump to launch investigation into China's trade practice
Nordstrom Inc.(JWN) shares rose 1.6% after the retailer late Thursday posted earnings that beat expectations (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/nordstrom-shares-rise-after-retailer-tops-views-sales-rise-2017-08-10), along with a sales rise.
Auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis Co. was up 0.59 percent, and SK Telecom, the No. 1 mobile carrier in the country, gained 0.73 percent.
Separate ONS data showed that a pick-up in Britain's industrial output in June was marred by a slump in vehicle production, while construction output also fell.
Gold fell $2.10 to $1,262.60 an ounce.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 10 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,463. The September copper contract was down two cents to US$2.91 a pound.
Nevsun Resources Ltd offset some of the material group's gains, plunging 16.4 per cent to C$2.75 after the company reported disappointing quarterly results. Wholesale gasoline dropped 2 cents to $1.60 a gallon, while heating oil shed 2 cents to $1.63 a gallon.
Benchmark U.S. crude fell 22 cents to $49.17 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The dollar fell to 109.85 yen from 110.48 yen late Tuesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1756 from $1.1752.