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Stocks, dollar extend slide as US, North Korea tensions intensify

12 August 2017

The Nasdaq Composite was down 37.30 points, or 0.59%, at 6,315.03.

All the 11 major S&P indexed were lower, with technology sector's 0.62% leading the decliners. "And while risks remain elevated from a geopolitical perspective, valuations are not necessarily excessive, though full". Is that a reason to be?

Canada's main stock index hit its lowest close in a month on Thursday as oil prices fell and investors sought refuge in safe-haven assets amid rising tensions between the United States and North Korea.

"If the US should target North Korea, it would have to deal with North Korea's nuclear weapons, and there's also the possibility for Russian Federation and China to intervene", Yang said. The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 1%, while 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%. The S&P shed 1.4%, its worst week since March, while the Nasdaq posted a weekly loss of 1.5%, its worst since June.

The dollar was further weighed down on Friday by the soft US inflation data.

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Still, the market has had several fits and starts over the past few months.

"The North Korea risk may combine with the won's plunge to put greater pressure on some foreign investors to take profits down the road", said Park Sang-hyun, an analyst at Hi Investment & Securities Co.

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.

Analysts said yields, which move inversely to prices, could fall further if the geopolitical tensions continue to rise - even if central bankers in the U.S. continue to talk of raising interest rates or scaling back stimulus programmes.

Jobless claims increased to 244,000 in the latest week, although continuing claims declined.

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"Most certainly the market was hoping for some upbeat assessment from Fed Bill Dudley but... it was Trump talk that trashed the equity markets, nothing more nothing less", said Oanda's Stephen Innes. The stock has more than doubled over the past 12 months, gaining more than 160%.

Ongoing global glut concerns lingered in oil markets despite a bigger-than-expected draw in U.S. crude inventories, leaving prices volatile.

Nevertheless, the geopolitical uncertainty looks set to continue, dealers said, following Trump's fresh warning Friday that the U.S. military is "locked and loaded" in the event of a misstep by the totalitarian state.

"What has changed this time is that the scary threats and war of words between the US and North Korea have intensified to the point that markets can't ignore it", said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital in Sydney.

"In all likelihood the North Korea problem will persist for years to come, with the U.S, and increasingly China, attempting to contain and restrain Kim Jong-un", said Tom Elliott, global investment strategist at deVere Group.

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The Nikkei finished down 8.97 points or 0.1 per cent at 19,729.74, erasing early morning gains.

Stocks, dollar extend slide as US, North Korea tensions intensify