Simmering North Korea tensions knock back Wall Street

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"We've had such a period of low volatility in the markets, coupled that with high valuation, it only takes a bit of a wobble to cause a reaction like we've seen", Jonathan Roy, advisory investment manager at Charles Hanover Investments, told Reuters. On an annual basis, inflation grew by 1.7%, below the 1.8% that was expected but above the 1.6% from the previous month. U.S. Treasury yields fell Wednesday with yields on the 10-year note at a six-week low.

The Japanese Nikkei 225 index closed down 0.1% on Friday.

The Swiss franc and the yen had notched up impressive gains against the dollar on Wednesday after U.S. President Donald Trump warned North Korea that it would face "fire and fury" if it threatened the United States.

The rhetoric between the USA and North Korea has continued to heat up, leading traders to look to safe havens such as gold and treasuries.

Stocks going ex-dividend included BT, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Lloyds, and pharma companies GSK and AstraZeneca, taking around 41 points off the index. Kinaxis shares fell after the supply chain management software maker cut its forecast.

"Traders should closely watch global equities today, with further falls and risk aversion likely pumping more safe-haven flows into precious metals", said Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at OANDA. Elsewhere in Asia Hong Kong share prices fell on tensions on the Korean peninsula but shares in property companies rose on a spinoff plan by a local developer.

Dow e-minis were up 6 points, or 0.03 percent, with 29,187 contracts changing hands at 8:34 a.m. ET (1234 GMT).

However, other analysts were less bullish, saying geopolitical factors often weigh fleetingly on gold.

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South Korea's KOSPI fell 1.4 percent, taking its losses this week to almost 3 percent.

The unpredictability of the isolationist rogue state of North Korea has significantly impacted gold.

US crude oil crude futures CLc1 were little changed at $48.59 per barrel.

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

"Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely".

Asian stocks slumped on Friday as tensions ramped up between the USA and North Korea, sending investors fleeing to less risky assets such as gold, the yen and US government bonds. It is now on track for its biggest weekly drop since the week before the November 8 US presidential election. Vantiv's move, one of the biggest takeovers of a British firm since last year's Brexit vote, is part of a wave of payments company mergers as consumers move away from cash transactions to digital payments.

Charter Communications rose 2.9 per cent on news Altice is exploring a bid for the cable giant.

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