Wall St. Lower as Investors Weigh Rising N. Korea Tensions

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Travel and media companies led US stocks lower in afternoon trading Wednesday as some rare earnings disappointments weighed on the market.

Simmering tensions between the US and North Korea continued to rattle investors, driving the VIX, a measure of how much volatility investors expect, to its highest level since May.

The broad-based S&P 500 was hit even harder, dropping 1.5 percent to close at 2,438.22, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index lost 2.2 percent 6,216.87.

The Dow ended a nine-day streak of closing records, falling by 0.24%, while the Nasdaq fell by just under half a percent and the S&P was down by 0.21%.

Global benchmark Brent also fell 0.9 percent to $51.44, after Thursday's 1.5 percent drop.

Dow e-minis were down 54 points, or 0.25 percent, with 25,272 contracts changing hands.

The UK blue-chip index closed 113 points, or 1.5%, lower at 7,385, steadily losing ground as the trading session wore on.

Barrick Gold Corp rose 2.1 percent to C$21.7, while Goldcorp Inc rose 0.9 percent to C$16.29.

Perrigo was up 9.5 percent after the company raised its full-year adjusted earnings forecast.

Tensions with North Korea appear to have finally shaken the confidence of U.S. investors, after the S&P 500 opened 0.8% lower, threatening to end its 15-day streak with a closing streak of more than 0.3%, a 90-year record.

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

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Goldman Sachs acted as left lead, while Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank and RBC came in as bookrunners. Tesla has said it secured at least 455,000 preorders and that 1,800 new reservations are coming in every day.

Australian shares were down 1.3 percent, set for a weekly loss of 0.6 percent and Chinese and Hong Kong bluechips lost 1.6 percent and 1.9 percent respectively.

The rhetoric between the USA and North Korea has continued to heat up, leading traders to look to safe havens such as gold and treasuries.

Despite the drop, analysts said the market seemed to be a bit skeptical that the North Korea situation would grow into a major crisis, noting that the losses were still not that deep.

The market's backstop safety asset, gold, edged up to its latest two-month high of $1,288 an ounce.

However, U.S. stocks recovered temporarily late on Wednesday as investors appeared to brush off the geopolitical concerns following encouraging comments from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

About 6.22 billion shares changed hands on US stock exchanges, slightly above the 6.15 billion average for the last 20 sessions.

Selling was broad. Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE 6-to-1; on Nasdaq, a 3.60-to-1 ratio favored decliners. The September copper contract was down two cents to US$2.91 a pound.

US crude oil +0.4% at $49.76/bbl.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region saw further downside during trading on Thursday.

On the currency markets, the pound was marginally higher against the United States dollar at 1.30 and up 0.1% versus the euro at 1.11.

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