Dollar hits eight-week low vs. yen, North Korea tensions spook investors

Ivan Schwartz
August 13, 2017

Stocks ended with slight losses, stopping the Dow's streak of nine consecutive record high closes, as the major indexes traded listlessly within a narrow range throughout the day.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 5.99 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,474.92. The remarks, following North Korea's earlier revelation of a plan to launch a salvo of ballistic missiles toward the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, gave investors further incentive to take to the sidelines at least in stock markets.

Oil prices edged higher after a report showed US refineries processed record amounts of crude in the latest week, eating into inventories, although a surprise jump in gasoline stockpiles limited gains.

Ongoing tensions between North Korea and the United States weighted on stock markets once again Friday.

NEW YORK, Aug 9 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump's warning to North Korea and Pyongyang's threat of possible armed retaliation drove investors out of stocks and other risky assets on Wednesday and into textbook safe havens like gold and Treasuries. Oil also regained momentum as data pointed to declining USA inventories.

"That may have weighed a little bit" on markets, said Phil Guarco, global investment specialist J.P. Morgan Private Bank. Wall Street was poised for a soft opening with S&P futures and Dow futures both down 0.2 percent. The index has fallen to its lowest intraday level in well over a month.

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U.S. Treasury prices finished lower, with the two-year yield (1.36%) and 10-year yield (2.28%) higher by one and three bps, respectively.

"Japanese equities hadn't been rising much despite positive earnings results, so investors had started jumping at shadows, doubting whether they should really be holdings onto Japanese stocks".

Michael Kors climbed 21.5 percent after the luxury handbag and apparel designer and retailer's latest quarterly results beat analysts' forecasts as sales improved.

Spot gold added 1 percent to $1,272.83 an ounce. Shares of Kohl's (KSS) tumbled by 5.8% after an earnings beat (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/kohls-stock-jumps-premarket-after-earnings-beat-2017-08-10). USA gold futures gained 1.27 percent to $1,278.60 an ounce. It was last up 1 percent at 1.133 per euro.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 24 cents to $48.37 per barrel on the on the New York Mercantile Exchange while Brent crude, used to price worldwide oils, declined 20 cents to $51.70 per barrel in London.

Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected the government to report that initial claims for regular state unemployment-insurance benefits rose 2,000 to 242,000. While the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.6 percent, the German DAX Index slumped by 1.1 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index plunged by 1.4 percent. The common currency had lost about 0.4 percent overnight after news US job openings surged to a record in June reinforced Friday's robust payrolls data and supported the greenback.

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