Global safe-haven trades jump on escalating North Korea tensions

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

Auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis Co. was up 1.78 percent to 257,500 won, and No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix Inc. rose 0.31 percent to 64,400 won. Netflix lost 1.5 percent.

The CBOE Volatility Index, the most widely followed barometer of expected near-term stock market volatility, ended at a session low of 11.11 after rising as high as 12.63.

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

Among other markets, oil prices advanced after a US Department of Energy report showed lower oil inventories.

However, an Associated Press report that the US and North Korea have been engaged in back channel talks (https://apnews.com/686ac7c761694b28b67793a1d8297145?link=mktw) for several months even as they exchange incendiary threats helped to soothe some of the jitters. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 13.20 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,396.95.

In the previous session, US stocks finished in the red. North Korea responded with threats to launch missiles into the Pacific Ocean near Guam, a USA territory.

Nervous investors drove shares lower earlier in the week, after President Trump declared Tuesday that the US would react with "fire and fury" to further nuclear provocations from North Korea.

Ralph Lauren gained $10.38, or 13.3 percent, to $88.53, while peer-to-peer loan company LendingClub added 99 cents, or 18.1 percent, to $6.45.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany's DAX was down 1.1 percent, while France's CAC 40 fell 1.4 percent.


U.S. stocks also fell, lingering in negative territory the entire session, but notching smaller declines than in overseas markets.

"We're getting close towards very important support on the dollar/yen", said Steven Dooley, currency strategist for Western Union Business Solutions in Melbourne.

Trump says North Korea "better get their act together or they are going to be in trouble like few nations have ever been in trouble".

German bond yields fell, gold and the Japanese yen surged and the leveraged bets on higher yielding currencies such as the Australian dollar took a beating.

The 30-year bond was last up 4/32 in price to yield 2.7871 per cent, from 2.794 per cent late on Thursday. These have ranged from an investigation into Russia's possible interference in the 2016 United States presidential election, to concern about China's risky debt levels, to stubbornly low inflation in the US. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 2.21 percent from 2.25 percent late Wednesday. The Dow shed 0.2 percent.

Benchmark U.S. crude added 39 cents to settle at $49.56 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The dollar index fell 0.32 per cent, with the euro up 0.42 per cent to US$1.1819.

The euro was down 0.3 percent at just over $1.17 and nearing a two-week low, while the New Zealand dollar tumbled a full 1 percent as its central bank head bluntly said he wanted it lower. USA crude was down 0.9 percent at $48.16 per barrel, on track for a weekly loss of 2.9 percent.

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