Article Highlights

  • MSCI world share index falls 1.1 pct; Nikkei futures tumble
  • Dollar at eight-week low vs yen, gold hits two-month high
  • U.S. long-dated yields slump as soft U.S. data also weighs
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Stocks around the world fell sharply on Thursday and investors moved into the yen, gold and other safe-haven assets amid more aggressive talk between the United States and North Korea.

The S&P 500 dropped the most since May and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe lost 1.1 percent in its third straight day of declines, as it pulled further back from all-time highs.

The Japanese yen hit an eight-week high against the U.S. dollar, and U.S.-traded Nikkei stock futures dropped 2 percent to their lowest since mid May. Spot gold reached a two-month high.

Rising geopolitical tensions were heightened further when U.S. President Donald Trump warned Pyongyang it should be “very, very nervous” if it even thinks about attacking the United States or its allies, after Pyongyang said it was making plans to fire missiles over Japan to land near the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.

“We’re not very oversold yet so the market still has more downside left to it. What we’re seeing today is political tensions over North Korea and the United States … making people nervous,” said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Boston Private Wealth in New York.

“We’re still close to the all-time high so that makes people a little nervous too, so they might say now might be the time to take a little bit of money off the table.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 204.69 points, or 0.93 percent, to close at 21,844.01, the S&P 500 lost 35.81 points, or 1.45 percent, to 2,438.21 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 135.46 points, or 2.13 percent, to 6,216.87.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index lost 1.11 percent. U.S.-traded Nikkei futures fell 2 percent to their lowest since mid-May.

In currencies, the yen rose 0.8 percent versus the greenback at 109.2 per dollar, the strongest level for the Japanese currency since mid June.

“The yen is the big story really. Risk aversion is still very much a concern for markets,” said Shaun Osborne, chief currency strategist at Scotiabank in Toronto.

The dollar index, which measures the U.S. currency against a basket of other major currencies, fell 0.14 percent.

The dollar weakened after news that U.S. producer prices unexpectedly fell in July, recording their biggest drop in nearly a year and pointing to a further moderation in inflation that could delay a Federal Reserve interest rate increase.

U.S. Treasury long-dated yields dropped to six-week lows, pressured by U.S.-North Korea tensions and the weak data that further reduced expectations of a Fed rate hike in December.

Benchmark 10-year notes were last up 12/32 in price to yield 2.201 percent, from 2.242 percent late on Wednesday.

The 30-year bond last rose 28/32 in price to yield 2.7759 percent, from 2.818 percent late on Wednesday.

Crude oil prices tumbled on the back of the selloff on Wall Street and lingering concerns over global oversupply.

U.S. crude was unchanged at $48.59 per barrel and Brent was last at $51.84, down 1.63 percent on the day.

Spot gold added 0.7 percent to $1,286.00 an ounce.

“The war of words between the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea continues to dominate investor sentiment,” said technical analyst Fawad Razaqzada.

“Gold and silver are higher, thanks mainly to their status as safe-haven commodities.”