Gold, silver up on safe-haven demand

A man looks at an electronic board showing Japan's Nikkei average outside a brokerage at a business district in Tokyo Japan

Nervous investors drove shares lower earlier in the week, after President Trump declared Tuesday that the USA would react with "fire and fury" to further nuclear provocations from North Korea.

Japanese markets were closed for a holiday, but the tense mood dragged Asian shares lower and an MSCI index of stocks across the globe posted its largest weekly drop since the week before Donald Trump won the United States presidential election in November.

"For quite some time the market hasn't really reacted to things on the Korean peninsula because we know from the past it is largely North Korean sabre-rattling, and it may yet be".

The hope that the Fed will have to slow its rate-hike path appeared to stop, at least for now, the near $1-trillion loss in world stocks valuations this week triggered by the war of words between Pyongyang and Washington.

When Iraq invaded Kuwait 27 years ago this month, the S&P 500 fell 1.1 percent, and was down 9.3 percent 20 days later.

There were falls of almost 2% on South Korea's Kospi and Hong Kong's Hang Seng, with markets in mainland China and Australia also down - taking their cues from sharp losses on Wall Street earlier.

Equity markets had traded with a soft tone in Europe and there was a sharp increase in selling pressure in NY with the S&P 500 index declining by close to 1.0%.

The index was also dragged lower after Beijing ordered probes into three major Chinese social networking platforms over outlawed content.

Geopolitical risk can boost the demand for assets seen as safe-havens such as gold. US equities steepened their losses late in the session after President Donald Trump said his earlier warnings to North Korea may not have been tough enough. The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.2 percent to 3,273.71 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was off 0.2 percent at 27,803.55.

Avoid bomb flash: Guam issues emergency guidelines for potential nuclear attack
Another option is Aegis Ashore, a naval tracking and missile defense system that has been converted to a land defense battery. The rotations also came as North Korea increasingly upped the ante in the standoff over its development of nuclear weapons.

But Wall Street is wondering whether the sell-off is due to North Korea - or just a widely anticipated pullback?

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against six rival currencies, was down 0.17 percent to 93.391.

"It's a big move in the context of what we've seen in the course of this year, but in a bigger picture perspective the levels are still relatively moderate", said Harper.

Against the pound, the euro managed to gain margially, rising 0.06% to 0.9047. "I think before the end of the year the market goes to new highs and (Treasury) yields go higher".

Disappointing earnings also helped pull the market lower Wednesday.

Prices earlier rose to $1,282.40 an ounce, the highest since June 14.

The price of crude oil dropped more than two percent Thursday, the cost of a barrel falling to $48.49.

US credit card processing company Vantiv secured a deal to buy British-based rival Worldpay for 8 billion pounds ($10.4 billion) Wednesday in a bid to create a $29 billion global payments powerhouse.

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