United States stocks fall again on North Korea fears

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Investors' unease over escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea had weighed on stocks earlier in the day, pushing gold and bond prices slightly higher.

In the Dow, declines in shares of Merck and those of DuPont, recently down 0.9 per cent and 0.8 per cent respectively, outweighed gains in shares of Apple and those of Microsoft, recently up 1.3 per cent and 0.7 per cent respectively.

Top security advisers of South Korea and the United States agreed Friday to discuss in advance any steps they could take to contain provocative North Korea, Seoul's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said, apparently suggesting the US will not pre-emptively strike the communist North without informing Seoul beforehand.

"I think this situation is more critical that the market is respecting".

SEJONG - South Korea's finance ministry said Friday that it will take swift and firm action as the heightening geopolitical tension sparked by the latest North Korean provocations may expand market volatility.

The index fell to 2,321.04 at one point, the lowest since May 24.

FTSE 100 index was trading at 7,498 levels, lower by 43.76 points, CAC 40 index was at 5,175 levels, down by 42.99 points, while the German DAX was at 12,206 levels, down by 85.62 points.

Data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission released last week showed that currency speculators still held a large net short position in the yen during the week ended August 1, although somewhat smaller than the levels seen a couple of weeks earlier, when their bearish bets against the yen grew to the largest since January 2014.

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The losses came on heels of Tuesday's pullback in stocks after Trump threatened North Korea with "fire and fury" over its nuclear ambitions. Copper lost 0.39 per cent to US$6,455.00 a tonne.

Following Trump's remarks, North Korea on Wednesday said it was "carefully examining" plans for a missile attack on the US Pacific territory of Guam, which is home to a large US military base.

Priceline Group dropped 8 percent after issuing a profit forecast that was weaker than analysts were expecting.

Benchmark U.S. crude added 39 cents to settle at $49.56 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Silver gained 47 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $16.86 an ounce. Brent crude, used to price worldwide oils, gained 56 cents to $52.70 in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 109.05 yen from 109.20 while the euro weakened to $1.1763 from $1.1773.

The dollar fell to 109.85 yen from 110.48 yen late Tuesday.

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