Wall Street lower on US-North Korea tensions

Pauline Gross
August 12, 2017

The S&P 500 index was down 18.45 points to 2,455.57 and the Nasdaq composite index was down 68.32 points to 6,284.01.

"Most investors will be completely out of their depth in making any assessment on the (North Korea) situation", said Koon Chow, emerging market FX strategist at fund manager UBP.

North Korea's threat to carry out a missile strike on Guam continued to worry investors. That was its biggest point loss since May 17.

Six of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the technology's 0.36 percent rise leading the advancers. The NASDAQ Composite Index fell 0.28% and closed the day at 6,352.33.

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

The influential financial stocks were among the biggest drags on the index, with Royal Bank of Canada down 1.5 percent to C$92.88, and Manulife Financial Corp falling 4.7 percent to C$24.43, its largest drop since early August a year ago.

The Dow industrials rose 14.31 points, or less than 0.1%, to 21858.32 on Friday.

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Politics lifted US defense stocks.

"Trump's response was aggressive and that's why the market turned lower", said Ken Polcari, Director of the NYSE floor division at O'Neil Securities.

The market indexes wavered between small gains and losses for much of the morning, then veered lower by afternoon. The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) soared more than 40% to trade at 15.98.

Investors, who took the North Korea report from Japan in their stride earlier in the day, lost their appetite for risk after Trump's comments to reporters during his vacation at his golf club in New Jersey. S&P 500 futures slipped 0.3 percent, after dropping the most since May yesterday, while the yield on 10-year Treasuries dropped below 2.2 percent.

Shares of Manulife, which reported better-than-expected results, fell after the company played down talk of a John Hancock spin-off.

Nvidia's quarterly revenue in its data center and automotive businesses missed estimates, dragging the chipmaker's shares down 5.43 percent. Companies in the S&P 500 are set to report stronger second-quarter earnings than analysts expected, according to FactSet, lifted by oil-and-gas companies benefiting from stabilizing oil prices and multinational firms profiting from a weaker dollar.

The Canadian dollar was trading at 78.64 cents U.S., down from an average price of 78.71 cents United States on Wednesday. The umbrella financials group slipped 0.3 percent.

Other reports by GizPress

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