Political tensions continue to weigh on world stocks

A woman walks past an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo on Aug. 9 2017

Canada's main stock index fell on Thursday despite a slew of better-than-expected quarterly results, as investors sought refuge in safe-haven assets amid rising tensions between the United States and North Korea.

The Nasdaq finished the day at 6,216.87, a slide of 135.46, while the S&P 500 lost almost 1.5 percent, ending the day at 2,438.21.

The indicated USA market moves reflect a selloff across global stock markets Friday.

Despite the drop, analysts said the market seemed to be a bit sceptical that the North Korea situation would grow into a major crisis, noting that the losses were still not that deep.

Information technology fell 1.24 percent, hurt by a 16.6 percent plunge to C$66.50 in Kinaxis Inc stock. The Nasdaq composite advanced 0.4% to 6,408. Nigerian oil production rose by 34,300 bpd to 1.748 million bpd, while Saudi Arabia's went up by 31,800 bpd to 10.067 million bpd.

But although USA equities on Wednesday managed to close only slightly down even after Trump's warning that "fire and fury" would rain on North Korea, on Thursday the chickens came home to roost on Wall Street.

The jitters came as Pyongyang said it was considering plans to attack the US Pacific territory of Guam - while Donald Trump threatened to react with "fire and fury". The tension increased the selling pressure in the market.

Significant strength was also visible among software stocks, as reflected by the 1.2% gain posted by the Dow Jones Software Index. Its weekly gain of 2.6 percent is the largest since June 2016.

"The high drama has prompted traders to take their cash out of stocks, and invest it in safer assets like gold".

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With most companies having reported second-quarter earnings, a divergence was increasingly visible between euro zone corporates, whose earnings are dented by a stronger euro, and the broader pan-European index.

Michael Kors climbed 21.5 percent after the luxury handbag and apparel designer and retailer's latest quarterly results beat analysts' forecasts as sales improved.

On average, the S&P 500 falls 5% or more every 10 weeks and the index falls 10% every 33 weeks, according to data analyzed by AllianceBernstein going back to 1928.

Avis Budget Group slumped 9.9 percent after the auto rental company cut its guidance following a weak second quarter.

Japan's Topix index had the biggest slide in nearly three months, falling 1.3 per cent on trading volume 22 per cent higher than the 30-day average at the close.

The U.S. dollar fell to 110.48 yen from 110.72 yen late Monday.

Japan's Nikkei 225 slipped 0.3 percent, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.5 percent.

Drugmaker Galapagos was the sole bright spot, up 4.8 percent as brokers upgraded their view on the stock which also outperformed on Thursday after a successful drug trial.

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