Equity screens were also awash with red in Asia as investors fled to safe haven assets after US President Donald Trump doubled down on his North Korea rhetoric.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 1.69 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,374.23.
Yesterday China's Hang Seng and SSE Composite indices fell by 1.9 per... "What we're seeing today is political tensions over North Korea and the United States. making people nervous", said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Boston Private Wealth in NY. "You're less than 2 per cent off the high for the S&P heading into a weekend where uncertainty with North Korea still lingers".
Johannesburg/London - Gold prices climbed to two-month highs on Friday as investors sought refuge from escalating tensions between North Korea and the U.S., while bullion also received support from weak United States inflation data.
The yen tends to benefit during times of geopolitical or financial stress as Japan is the world's biggest creditor nation and there is an assumption that Japanese investors there will repatriate funds in a crisis.
The Canadian dollar was trading at an average price of 78.67 cents USA, down 0.04 of a US cent. "This provides an excuse key in hand for investors to cash in profits, or at least to contain for the moment their fever buying in a market where many think it was ripe for a downturn", said Patrick O'hare of Briefing.
Several indexes closed lower overnight.
Investor focus now turns to Friday's US consumer price index data.
For now, the dollar remains on the back foot, pulling back 0.1% to 0.9635 Swiss francs today, after dropping as much as 1.2% to a two-week low overnight.More news: Donald Trump appears to grant China banks sanctions reprieve after UN deal
More news: North Korea tensions send dollar to eight-week low vs. yen
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The Dow and S&P 500 inched higher on the day but they both posted their largest weekly percentage drops since late March.
The Canadian dollar was trading at 78.64 cents United States, down from an average price of 78.71 cents U.S. on Wednesday.
Biotechnology, tobacco, and transportation stocks also saw considerable strength, while steel stocks extended a recent move to the downside.
"We're still close to the all-time high so that makes people a little nervous too, so they might say now might be the time to take a little bit of money off the table".
JAPAN MACHINERY DISAPPOINTS: Orders for machinery in June, considered a leading economic indicator, were slower than analysts had forecast and at their weakest since May 2016.
Shares of Snap were off about 15 percent premarket following the social media company's earnings that came below estimates and a slew of price target cuts.
The euro eased 0.1 per cent to $1.1766, staying below a high of around $1.1910 set last week, the euro's strongest level in 2-1/2 years.
In commodities, US. crude fell 0.67 per cent to $49.23 per barrel and Brent was last at $52.58, down 0.23 per cent on the day.