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North Korea tensions drag down stocks but boost gold

12 August 2017

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 inched down less than 0.1 percent to finish at 19,729.74.

Below, the Associated Press' bureau chiefs for North and South Korea discuss the North's stated plans to send test missiles close to the USA territory of Guam, and President Donald Trump's vow to unleash "fire and fury" on Pyongyang if it continues to threaten America.

Geopolitical concerns often prompt risk aversion and boost demand for the yen for its perceived safe-haven status.

The S&P 500 volatility index jumped again on the latest jawboning in the US-North Korea standoff. Risk appetite also stabilised after comments from the Russian foreign ministry that it was working with China to find a diplomatic solution to the North Korean situation.

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On the economic front, the Labor Department released a report showing an unexpected drop in USA producer prices in the month of July. The country previously threatened a further "all-out war, wiping out all the strongholds of enemies, including the US mainland" in a government statement.

Excluding food and energy prices, core producer prices still dipped by 0.1 percent in July after creeping up by 0.1 percent in June.

A separate report from the Labor Department showed an unexpected uptick in initial jobless claims in the week ended August 5th. Traders were pricing in a read of 240K. 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. Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.5 per cent to 5,773.70 while New Zealand also rose.

The New Zealand dollar was 0.79 lower against the greenback after New Zealand's central bank said it was slightly more uncomfortable with the high level of the local dollar than it had been in May.

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U.S. Treasury yields US10YT=RR fell to as low as 2.197 percent, their lowest level since June 28, overnight.

Stock futures were trading lower on Thursday, Aug. 10, as the threat of conflict with North Korea continued to percolate. "Too much uncertainty likely means gold goes up from here". This could cause a price surge into the close.

Data showed US 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.

Looking ahead, US CPI for July and US Baker Hughes rig count data are due to be released in the NY session. Core CPI is also expected to come in at 0.2%. "If you look at the gold price after the CPI (inflation) data, it tells you that the Fed is not going to be in any rush to increase the interest rate this year", said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Think Markets. Wall Street was expecting more inflation.

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