Markets Right Now: Stocks drop, led by technology companies

Traders working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

Stocks around the world slid again Friday following an escalation of threats between the US and North Korea, while investors contemplated an array of macroeconomic uncertainties.

"There's not a fundamental reason why what we're seeing out of North Korea right now should affect stock market prices, but it's being used as the reason to sell off right now because we've been looking for it for so long", Schiegoleit said.

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

The U.S. blue-chip index is down 1.1% this week and the S&P 500 is 1.6% lower, facing its worst weekly performance since November.

U.S. stocks also fell, lingering in negative territory the entire session, but notching smaller declines than in overseas markets.

"Given the great run we've had, seems like some sort of pullback wouldn't be surprising", said Michael Baele, managing director of investments at U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management.

Wall Street's fear gauge - the CBOE Volatility Index or the VIX - surged 44%, its second-biggest one-day jump of the year.

Wall Street stocks dropped early Thursday after North Korea announced a plan to send missiles towards Guam, raising the stakes of a nuclear standoff with the United States.

Large retailers Macy's and Kohl's tumbled on Thursday after they reported another quarter of shrinking sales. Advanced Micro Devices gave up 38 cents, or 3 per cent, to $12.45. MetLife fell $1.38, or 2.9 per cent, to $46.93, while Synchrony Financial slid $1.01, or 3.3 per cent, to $29.24.

Shares of Apple, Amazon and Facebook fell more than 2% Thursday. Dillard's slumped 13.8 per cent after the chain booked a loss for the second quarter as increased inventory led to big discounts. Chinese blue chips closed flat but Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.4 per cent. That is significant because yields fall when bond prices rise.

The index was showing signs of Greed just two days ago while the Dow was in the midst of a winning streak that included nine straight record highs.

The benchmark US yield on Thursday was just above 2.2 percent, at its lowest level since late June, as investors bought up Treasuries, a classic safe harbor. Bent crude, the global benchmark, rose 19 cents to $52.33 a barrel.

Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower, with the consumer discretionary index's 0.59 per cent fall leading the decliners.

South Korea's Kospi stock market index has fallen by 0.4% today, adding to the 1% wiped off shares on Wednesday.

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

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