Wall Street set to open lower on simmering North Korea tensions

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

On Thursday, in response to North Korea's threat to fire missiles at American targets in the Pacific, President Trump said that if Pyongyang "does something in Guam, it will be an event the likes of which nobody has seen before - what will happen in North Korea".

Stocks are lower at midday as investors weighed the growing tensions between the USA and North Korea.

Earlier, Pyongyang said it was ready to give Washington a "severe lesson" with its strategic nuclear force in response to any US military action.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index finished the day with a decline of 1 percent from the previous close.

The FTSE 250 was down 0.47% in afternoon trading against a backdrop of heightened geopolitical tensions caused by rising antagonism between the United States and North Korea.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 14 points, a gain of 0.07 percent, the Nasdaq composite rose almost 40 points or 0.64 percent and the S&P 500 gained 3 points or 0.13 percent.

Wall Street's widely followed measure of market anxiety, the CBOE Volatility index, was up 0.79 points at 16.77 on Friday, its highest since November.

A Reuters Datastream index of more than 7,000 stocks across the globe saw its market capitalisation drop from a record high US$61.36 trillion on Monday to US$60.43 trillion at the close on Thursday. Economists had expected prices to rise by 0.2%.

More news: Mattis cagey on military solution to North Korea

Japan's Nikkei had been down more than 1% overnight while South Korean shares also slipped.

The MSCI World index dropped 1.1% overnight in its third straight day of declines and its biggest one-day slide since May 17, as US President Donald Trump stepped up his rhetoric against North Korea.

Asian markets fell sharply, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropping 2%, while U.S. stocks had ended lower on Thursday.

S&P 500 e-minis were up 1.5 points, or 0.06 percent, with 300,073 contracts traded.

The Japanese yen last strengthened 0.03 per cent versus the greenback at 109.22 per dollar.

Tillerson defended Trump's remarks, which he argued send a clear message to North Korea that the USA will defend itself and its allies. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.26 percent. On the Nasdaq, 2,082 issues fell and 669 advanced. During the session it sank to its lowest level since May. Those highs were supported by strong corporate earnings, but lofty market valuations and a prolonged period without a significant market pullback had some analysts predicting a sell-off.

The benchmark USA yield on Thursday was just above 2.2 percent, at its lowest level since late June, as investors bought up Treasuries, a classic safe harbor. A separate Labour Department report showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 244,000 for the week ended August 5.

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