Dollar slumps, Tokyo tanks as North Korea tensions spike

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday warned Pyongyang again, saying his previous promise to unleash "fire and fury" may not have been strong enough after North Korea responded with a threat to fire missiles over Japan to land near the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.

Wall Street indices suffered their biggest losses in almost three months on Thursday, while the dollar struggled to recover from eight-week yen lows. The S&P hasn't moved more than 0.5 percent in one day since July and has fallen more than 1 percent only twice this year.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite bore the brunt of the sell-off, losing 135.46 points, or 2.1 percent, to 6,216.87.

On Thursday, the CBOE Volatility Index, a barometer of expected near-term stock market volatility, closed at its highest since the USA presidential election.

Investors fled to gold on Wednesday as tensions between North Korea and USA reached a recent peak, pushing the precious metal's price to an intraday high of $1276.2/oz.

Overnight, Wall Street closed sharply lower after Trump, with fiery rhetoric, warned Pyongyang against attacking Guam or USA allies after it disclosed plans to fire missiles over Japan to land near the U.S. Pacific territory.

Gold futures for December delivery climbed 1.3 percent to $1,278.50 an ounce at 9:02 a.m. on the Comex in NY. The risk-off tone triggered by the increase in tension between the United States and North Korea yesterday picked back up during today's United States session.

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The Labor Department said its consumer price index inched up by 0.1% in July after coming in unchanged in June. And in a Friday morning post on social media site Twitter, Trump wrote: "Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely". Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman were all up, lifting the Dow Jones U.S. defense index 1.17 percent.

Kathleen Brooks, research director at City Index Direct, said: "The Swiss franc is the safe haven of choice today as risk sentiment gets hit from escalating nuclear fears between the U.S. and North Korea". The Nasdaq composite lost 0.2 per cent, to 6,370.46.

CURRENCY: The dollar declined to 109.77 yen from Tuesday's 110.34. The euro rose to $1.1824 from $1.1774.

The Korean won continued to fall versus the dollar, down 0.13 per cent to 1,143.5 yesterday for a 1.6 per cent decline on the week.

Pan American Silver Corp, which reported second-quarter results late Wednesday, rallied 10.7 per cent to C$22.47.

Spot gold was almost flat at $1,285.76 per ounce at 0447 GMT and was set for a weekly gain of over 2 percent.

Ongoing global glut concerns lingered in oil markets despite a bigger-than-expected draw in USA crude inventories, leaving prices volatile.

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