Asian stocks lower as US, NKorea nuclear tensions rise

Retail brands surprise on Wall Street

USA stocks were lower on Wednesday afternoon as investors rushed to safe-haven assets after President Donald Trump's "fire and fury" warning to North Korea escalated tensions with the nuclear-armed nation. The S&P 500 lost six points, or 0.24%, to close at 2,475 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 13 points, or 0.21%, to 6,370.

The S&P had been down 0.52 percent at its session low.

President Donald Trump's warning North Korea faced "fire and fury" and Pyongyang's threat of possible retaliation drove investors out of stocks on Wednesday and into the safety of the yen, Swiss franc, gold and government debt.

The comments came after reports said the U.S. intelligence community has determined that North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles. Energy stocks fell along with crude prices as investors kept an eye on the latest company earnings and geopolitical news.

The technology-focused Nasdaq Composite Index (NYSEARCA:QQQ) reversed course to finish down 0.2% at 6,370.46.

Small attributed a large part of the Dow's decline to disappointing earnings from Disney after the media giant reported a weak quarter, said it would pull its movies from Netflix and start two of its own video streaming services.

The market was higher at lunchtime but veered lower in the afternoon Tuesday.

In the Dow, declines in shares of Merck and DuPont, down 0.9% and 0.8% respectively, outweighed gains in shares of Apple and Microsoft, up 1.3% and 0.7% respectively. Netflix was down 1.8 percent.

Priceline Group dropped 8 percent after issuing a profit forecast that was weaker than analysts were expecting.

Shares of hotelier Marriott International slumped more than 3%, a day after the firm said it expected limited growth in North America in coming months.

In Europe, the pan-continental STOXX 600 index lost 0.9 percent, with falls deepening after reports a vehicle had rammed a group of soldiers in Paris, injuring six. The company booked a hefty charge and said its CFO is leaving the company.

The blue-chip index closed down 0.2% at 22,085.34, its first loss in eleven days.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 7 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,488. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 tumbled 1.3 percent, while Seoul's Kospi fell 1.1 percent.

Instead, investors turned to the traditional safe-haven assets sought in troubled times, the Japanese yen strengthened 0.5 percent to 109.73 to the dollar JPY=.

BONDS: Bond prices rose.

The yield on the 10-year US Treasury note rose to 2.282% from 2.258% on Monday. It was up $15.70, or 1.2 percent, to $1,278.30 an ounce.

The weakness among oil service stocks came amid a modest decrease by the price of crude oil, with crude for September delivery slipping USD0.22 to USD49.17 a barrel.

Mounting tensions lifted USA defense stocks. The euro edged down to $1.1726 from $1.1751.

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