Wall St set to open flat after inflation data, N.Korea tensions

The broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.6 percent to 2,459.50, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index tumbled 0.8 percent to 6,299.12.

American and South Korean officials said they would move forward with large-scale military exercises later this month, which North Korea claims are a rehearsal for war.

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. The S&P 500 added 3.11 points, or 0.1%, to 2441.32, ending the week down 1.4%, its biggest loss since March.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 34.61 points, or 0.56 percent, at 6,251.48.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 110.82 points to 21,937.88. Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman all rose and the Dow Jones U.S. defense index was up 1.6 percent after hitting a record high.

Six of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the technology's 0.36 percent rise leading the advancers. Only utilities sector stocks eked out a gain on a day of mostly listless trading as investors kept an eye on the latest company earnings and geopolitical news.

Investors have been jittery about North Korea since Tuesday when Trump said any threats from Pyongyang would be "met with fire and fury like the world has never seen". Non-OPEC production will get a health check later today when the Baker Hughes U.S. rig count is published at 1:00 p.m.


"Risk assets remain out of favour, as the threat of a conflict with North Korea pushes traders towards havens", said Joshua Mahony, market analyst at IG.

Overseas markets were also lower Wednesday.

The CBOE Volatility Index, better known as the VIX and the most widely-followed barometer of expected near-term stock market volatility, closed at 10.96, its highest in about a month. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was down 1.1 percent at 5:15 a.m. And Blue Apron shares dipped after its first earnings report as a public company.

Disney dropped 4.5 percent after reporting a weak quarter and saying it would pull its movies from Netflix and start two of its own video streaming services.

Trading volume also picked up in the late afternoon of what had been a sleepy summer session while the U.S. Congress is expected to be in recess until Sept 5.

Shares of SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. slid 6.2 percent after the theme park operator reported second-quarter revenue that fell short of Wall Street's expectations.

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