Markets Right Now: Stocks drift lower on Wall Street

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US President Donald Trump's emotive suggestion about a large scale military response to North Korean threats rattled markets, also dragging the FTSE down 0.8% on Wednesday.

The last time the S&P 500 fell over 1 percent was on May. 17. The index had its biggest drop since mid-May a day earlier. The Nasdaq composite lost 20 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,349.

Dow e-minis were down 54 points, or 0.25 percent, with 25,272 contracts changing hands. TMX Group Ltd was up 3.5 percent to C$68.23, while Quebecor Inc added 2.9 percent to C$44.60.

Meanwhile, gold stocks are bucking the downtrend, driving the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index up by 1.2%.

"We do just not know what happens next with the North Korea situation", said BNY Mellon FX strategist Neil Mellor.

Tillerson's tone was in sharp contrast to that of U.S. president Donald Trump, who warned on Tuesday any North Korean threat to the U.S. would be met with "fire and fury".

North Korea had responded to Trump's previous promise to unleash "fire and fury" with a threat to land a missile near the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.

Still, there were fewer signs of anxiousness in the markets Friday.

Many world stock markets have hit record or multi-year highs in recent weeks, leaving them vulnerable to a sell-off, and the tensions over North Korea have proved the trigger. It's still the highest it's been since May.

Among economic data, the U.S. Labor Department is likely to report that initial jobless claims remained unchanged at 240,000 for the week ended August 5.

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"I still think there's more good news than bad news [in results] because you're still seeing underlying economies growing at a decent clip", said Andrew King, head of European equities at BNP Paribas Investment Partners.

Traders sold off financial stocks amid speculation that the Fed will decide to hold off on raising interest rates next month.

Oil stocks were feeling the additional weight of lower oil prices, which were down about 1%.

Retailers were all under pressure after Macy's and Kohl's each reported lower second-quarter sales, reviving worries about consumer discretionary stocks. The stock lost $4.08 to $102.90.

After the bell, Twenty-First Century Fox shares were up 0.7 percent following the release of its results.

Tuesday's rise puts the Dow on track to post its 11th straight session of gains - the blue-chip index's longest streak since February - driven by a strong quarterly earnings season. Natural gas was also flat at $2.98 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The market's backstop safety asset, gold, edged up to its latest two-month high of $1,288 an ounce. The September copper contract was down two cents to US$2.91 a pound.

The dollar slipped to 109.04 yen from 109.26 late Thursday. The euro slid to $1.1742 from $1.1752.

"The DAX is flirting with support at the 200-day moving average just above 11,950 and another bout of risk aversion is likely to see this breached, if the falls in Asia overnight are anything to go on", said Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital. On the Nasdaq, 1,846 issues fell and 953 advanced favoring decliners. The index has fallen to its lowest intraday level in well over a month. Netflix also fell, giving up $3.19, or 1.8 percent, to $175.17.

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