Markets Right Now: Stocks drift lower on Wall Street

Dollar slumps, Tokyo tanks as North Korea tensions spike

"If the market truly believed the North Korea reaction was imminent, I think it would be down a lot more than it is", said Alan Skrainka, chief investment officer at Cornerstone Wealth Management. United States job vacancies increased by 6.163 million in June instead of 5.775 million expected, exceeding the previous mark of 5.702 million and recording a multi-year high.

"It's incredible when you consider the headlines just how calm the equity markets are, how they've taken things in their stride", said Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist at LPL Financial in Charlotte, North Carolina.

KOREA JITTERS: With President Donald Trump warning North Korea of "fire and fury", investors have become concerned that the war of words between Washington and Pyongyang could escalate. "The North Korea situation appears to be the culprit".

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.

Geopolitical issue remain the biggest focus after North Korea dismissed comments from President Donald Trump as a "load of nonsense" and said it was outlining plans for a missile strike near Guam, where the U.S. has a military base, in mid-August.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average plunged 204.69 points to 21,844.01.

Trump was responding to North Korea's claim it was completing plans to fire four intermediate-range missiles over Japan to land near the US Pacific territory of Guam.

The Swiss franc was on track for its biggest daily gain against the euro since the Swiss National Bank removed its cap on the currency in January 2015.

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European equity markets continued to lose ground on Thursday which provided further net support to gold, especially with bond yields tending to drift lower.

Safe-haven assets gained following the mounting geopolitical tensions.

Gold was up for the third day, hitting an intra-day high of $1,280.38 an ounce that was last recorded mid-June.

Asian equities fell, driving the region's benchmark index to its biggest loss in a month, on rising geopolitical risk after President Donald Trump warned the US will retaliate against North Korea. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.23 percent from 2.26 percent late Tuesday. Germany's DAX fell 1.1 percent, while the CAC 40 in France lost 0.6 percent.

Later on Friday, investors will look to U.S. July consumer price data for hints on the Federal Reserve's policy outlook and near-term moves in the dollar.

LACKLUSTER QUARTER: Office Depot sank 24.5 percent after the office supply company's second-quarter results fell short of Wall Street's projections. Alliance Data Systems fell $6.22, or 2.7 per cent, to $225.70. It slid 80 cents, or 1.5 percent, to close at $51.90 per barrel on Thursday.

The Dow slid as declines in Apple and Goldman Sachs, down 2.3% and 1.7% respectively, outweighed gains in McDonald's and Coca-Cola, up 1.4% and 0.5% respectively.

The Japanese yen strengthened 0.35 per cent versus the greenback at 109.94 per dollar. Altice USA, the subsidiary of the French company, added 0.1 percent.

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