United States stocks close lower after President Trump's remarks to North Korea

US: Dow streak of records ends amid US-North Korea tensions

Stocks going ex-dividend included BT, Royal Dutch Shell (LSE: 0LN9.L - news), BP, Lloyds, and pharma companies GSK and AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN - news), taking around 41 points off the index.

The S&P 500 index had its biggest one-day drop in nearly three months on Thursday as investors fled riskier assets, with technology stocks leading the charge, in response to an increasingly aggressive exchange of threats between the United States and North Korea.

The Nasdaq composite lost 13.31 points, or 0.2 percent, to 6,370.46.

The S&P 500 lost 9.74 points, or 0.39 per cent, to 2,465.18.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 39.75 points, or 0.67 percent, on volume of 53,600 contracts.

The fall comes against a background of increasing tension between North Korea and the US, with the former making a threat to land a missile just short of the US Pacific territory of Guam.

While markets shrugged off news earlier in the day that North Korea had developed nuclear warheads, Trump's threatening reaction later in the day prompted a more nervous reaction from investors.

'Equity markets have behaved as you would expect by selling off sharply, an entirely predictable outcome at any time but more so when volatility levels are as low as they are, which now suggests that these moves lower have the potential to gather pace until the rhetoric gets dialled back'.

Earlier on Thursday, North Korea revealed a plan to launch ballistic missiles toward a major US military hub in the Pacific. The umbrella financials group slipped 0.3 percent.

Major U.S. indices had posted record highs in recent weeks. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index plunged by 2%, while South Korea's Kospi Index slumped by 1.7%.

CURRENCY: The dollar declined to 109.77 yen from Tuesday's 110.34. Japan is the world's biggest creditor country and there is an assumption investors there will repatriate funds in a crisis. On Tuesday, the DAX added 0.3 per cent, the CAC 40 gained 0.2 per cent and the FTSE rose 0.1 per cent. The euro rose to $1.1812 from $1.1774.

Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management, said: "While the tough talk about the potential for war (between the U.S. and North Korea) is scary, investors have heard it many times before". The S&P hasn't moved more than 0.5 percent in one day since July and has fallen more than 1 percent only twice this year.

Yields on core government debt fell. Net income fell to US$3 million from US$36 million in the year-ago quarter. Regions Financial shed 23 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $14.07.

"But looking ahead unless we start to see a conflict break out or a major stock market correction, (gold) is capped at 1,295 (although) the upside at moment is the favored direction".

Supply chain software company Kinaxis Inc fell 12.9 percent to C$69.43 as several analysts cut their target prices and recommendations on the stock. Bent crude, the global benchmark, rose 19 cents to $52.33 a barrel.

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