Friday August 11th

11-08-2017

Stocks on edge as Trump warns North Korea again; gold, volatility rise

Entering Friday's session, the Dow was on track to post its worst weekly performance since March 24, while the S&P 500 stared at its biggest weekly loss since the week before the U.S. election. Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 20 points, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures declined 4 points and 16.50 points, respectively. The Dow has fallen more than 275 points during the past three days, with Thursday's sell-off losing 204 points. The S&P and the Dow are down more than 1 percent this week. Futures for major indexes were little changed paring earlier losses after weaker-than-expected inflation data raised hopes that the Federal Reserve would show restraint in raising interest rates. The Labor Department said on Friday the Consumer Price Index edged up 0.1 percent last month, versus expectations of 0.2 percent. In the latest developments between the two countries' war of words, President Donald Trump on Friday tweeted another stark warning to North Korea. The tweet came a day after Trump said his previous warning to North Korea that it would face "fire and fury" may not have been "tough enough." "Unprecedented and tough comments supplied by Donald Trump against North Korea along with a response filled with bravado from Pyongyang provided the impetus for the latest 'misstep' from equities," Jeremy Klein, chief market strategist at FBN Securities, said in a note. "While many analysts would argue that Kim Jong-un is far too unorthodox and ruthless to predict his decision making accurately, I find it hard to believe that he will go beyond the point of no return which would threaten his and his country's survival. Hence, the current bout of skittishness should soon dissipate as the sparring subsides." The CBOE volatility index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, soared more than 40 percent in Thursday trade. It exceed 16.9 in premarket trade Friday morning, its highest level since the presidential election. Traditional safe havens have also been surging in the heated geopolitical atmosphere, with gold futures rising 0.19 percent Friday and more than 2 percent this week. The Swiss franc has advanced 1.08 percent against the U.S. dollar. Investors also parsed a slew of quarterly earnings, including Snap's results. The company reported weaker-than-expected results across the board, sending the stock down more than 15 percent in the premarket. Stocks in Asia closed lower on Friday as U.S.-North Korea geopolitical tensions came to the fore once again, keeping the demand for safe haven assets intact. South Korea's benchmark Kospi index fell 1.69 percent, or 39.76 points, to end at 2,319.71. Markets in greater China mirrored the slide in global equities. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was down 2.04 percent by 3:05 p.m. HK/SIN. On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite tumbled 1.59 percent, or 51.9447 points, to close at 3,209.8047, and the Shenzhen Composite shed 1.602 percent, or 29.9985 points, to finish the session at 1,842.5981. Japan markets are closed for the Mountain Day holiday. Oil prices fell on Friday after the International Energy Agency said market rebalancing was taking time despite strong demand growth due to weak OPEC compliance with output cuts. Brent crude, the global benchmark, was down 15 cents at $51.75 per barrel by 9:08 a.m. ET (1308 GMT). On Thursday, the contract touched an 11-week high at $53.64. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 17 cents at $48.42 a barrel, after falling to a 2½ week low of $48.01 earlier in the session. Gold rose to two-month highs on Friday as investors sought refuge from the uncertainty of escalating security tensions between North Korea and the United States. U.S President Donald Trump warned North Korea again on Thursday not to strike Guam or U.S. allies, saying his earlier threat to unleash "fire and fury" on Pyongyang if it launched an attack may not have been tough enough. Spot gold was up 0.34 percent at $1,290.36 per ounce, set for its biggest weekly gains since April. It earlier hit its highest since June 8 at $1,288.97 an ounce.