Gold steady near 2-mth highs as N. Korea tensions continue

MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.2 per cent in early trading

Yen is safest. These are some of the strategies analysts are recommending as the escalating threats between USA and North Korea send investors fleeing. Oil prices veered lower as early gains faded.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were down 0.12%, S&P 500 futures fell 0.21%, and Nasdaq futures slid 0.32%. The Nasdaq composite lost 99 points, or 1.6 per cent, to 6,252.

The greenback slipped 0.83 per cent to a near two-week low against the Swiss franc and fell to 110.11 yen, its lowest in almost two months against the Japanese currency.

U.S. President Donald Trump issued a new threat to North Korea, saying American weapons were "locked and loaded" as Pyongyang accused him of driving the Korean Peninsula to the brink of nuclear war.

Earnings results also weighed on stocks.

There have been some markets which have benefited from the U.S.

The Vix, a measure of how much volatility investors expect in stocks, jumped to its highest level since May after North Korea revealed a plan to launch ballistic missiles toward a major US military hub in the Pacific.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 finished down by 1.07% for the day and by 2.8% for the week with some of the biggest losses coming from the banking (-1.69%), basic resources (-2,66%) and technology sectors (-1.09%). Asian and European stocks continued the sharp decline Friday.

Housebuilders Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey (LSE: TW.L - news) and Barratt fell by 2.8 to 3% on weak house price data. On Friday, fellow retailer J.C. Penney dropped 16% after its second-quarter loss exceeded expectations. Its shares tumbled $13.09 to $60.25.

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Shares of Manulife, which reported better-than-expected results, fell after the company played down talk of a John Hancock spin-off. The euro fell to $1.1728 from $1.1757.

OIL: Crude oil gave up early gains. Brent crude was up 80 cents at $53.50 a barrel and US crude was up 60 cents and back up to $50. Brent crude, used to price worldwide oils, gained 40 cents to $52.54 in London.

After touching a more than two-month high at US$1,291.86, spot gold last added 0.2 per cent to US$1,288.81 an ounce.

Oil prices rose nearly half a percent in today's trading following a bigger-than-expected drop in U.S. crude inventories.

CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 109.78 yen from 110.06 late Wednesday in Asia. CNNMoney's Fear & Greed Index, which looks at the VIX and six other gauges of market sentiment, tipped toward Fear.

At its worst, the FTSE 100 was down 121 points, or 1.6%, at around 3pm, also pressured by some companies going ex-dividend, and disappointing export and construction data.

The dollar last changed hands at 108.96 yen, down 0.2 percent.

In the latest economic data, the consumer-price index (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-consumer-inflation-remains-soft-in-july-cpi-shows-2017-08-11) rose a seasonally adjusted 0.1% in July, its fifth straight month of softness, raising more questions about whether inflation will eventually rise to hit the Federal Reserve's 2% annual rate target.

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