Gold buoyed by North Korea tensions, United States inflation data

People watch news report showing North Korea's Hwasong-14 missile launch on electronic screen at Pyongyang station North Korea

U.S. President Donald Trump ratcheted up his rhetoric toward North Korea on Thursday, saying the reclusive communist country should be "very, very nervous" if it even thinks about attacking the United States or its allies. Trading was thinner than usual, with Japanese markets closed for a public holiday.

More than 430 stocks from all USA exchanges hit their lowest levels in 52 weeks or more on Thursday, the most for any session since mid-November right after Trump was elected.

"Of course, it's all come at a time when share markets are due for a correction, so North Korea has provided a ideal trigger".

Korea's Samsung Electronics fell 2.8% Friday and was down 6.1% on the week.

The Korean won also continued to skid, sliding 0.4 percent to 1,146.2, below its 200-day moving average. Economists had expected another 0.1% uptick.

North Korea on Thursday outlined details for a missile strike near the USA territory of Guam, adding fuel to rising tensions with the United States.

Trump's second warning, however, has shaken markets that have been largely resilient this year, swatting away a slew of risks.

The CBOE Volatility Index .VIX , the most widely followed barometer of expected near-term stock market volatility, rose to a near three-month high of 15.36. The index closed at 16.04 overnight, the highest level since November 8, when Trump was elected president.

The S&P 500 dropped 1.4% to 2438.21, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 204.69 points, or 0.9%, to 21,844.01.

While European stocks have seen robust inflows in the wake of the French elections, their performance have lagged their US rivals since mid June.

The S&P 500 has hadn't a single day move of more than 0.5 percent since mid-July and has fallen more than 1 percent only twice this year.

More news: State says Trump on 'same page' as USA officials

In Asia, benchmarks in Hong Kong and South Korea - which had been one of the best performers of 2017 - closed down 2% and 1.7% respectively, Friday, putting the week's drop at 2.5% and 3.2%.

USA producer prices unexpectedly fell in July, pointing to a further moderation in inflation that could delay a Federal Reserve interest rate increase.

Japan is the world's biggest creditor nation and there is an assumption Japanese investors may repatriate their foreign holdings in times of heightened global uncertainty.

It follows a sell-off in overnight markets, as global stocks got the jitters from rising levels of animosity between the USA and North Korea.

Subdued U.S. inflation has stirred doubts about the chances of another Fed interest rate hike this year, which have weighed on the dollar.

Australian stocks led regional markets lower this morning: The ASX dipped by 1.5% as major banks led the falls.

The dollar index was trading 0.2 percent up at 93.73.

USA producer prices unexpectedly fell in July, recording their biggest drop in almost a year, while another set showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week.

The latest United States economic data cemented expectations that inflation will remain subdued amid a robust labour market.

Investors again sought safe-haven assets such as gold and the Swiss franc, helping gold hit a more two-month high. It soared over 2 percent in the previous two sessions, and is set for a weekly gain of 2.25 percent.

US crude futures extended losses from Thursday, when they plunged 2 percent on fears of slowing demand and lingering concerns over a global oversupply. Palladium added 0.4% to $899.80 per ounce and was on track to end the week about 2% higher.

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