S&P falls 1.4 percent in safety flight on North Korea tensions

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Gold was up $3 at $1293 an ounce, adding to 2-month highs.

"Both precious metals are looking increasingly bullish from a technical standpoint, but gold has drifted higher of late, breaking many resistance levels in the process".

Gold has rallied 2.3% this week on the heels of renewed tension with North Korea.

European stock markets fell further in opening trade on Friday on intensifying fears over North Korea, dealers said.

The announcement Thursday warned that the North is preparing a plan to fire four of its Hwasong-12 missiles over Japan and into waters around the tiny island, which hosts 7,000 US military personnel on two main bases and has a population of 160,000. The Dow is up 34.62 points or 0.2% at 21,878.63, the Nasdaq is up 25.62 points or 0.4% at 6,242.49 and the S&P 500 is up 4.36 points or 0.2% at 2,442.57.

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.

He said the crisis provided a "perfect trigger" for a correction at a time when many markets - including the FTSE 100 - were at or around record highs, leaving them vulnerable to a sell-off if investors think it is time to take profits.

With Japanese markets closed for a public holiday, Hong Kong led the downward charge in Asia-Pacific as the Hang Seng lost more than two percent.

The franc wasn't the only beneficiary to the risk-off sentiment sweeping markets.

U.S. stock indexes opened higher for the first time in four days on Friday after tepid data pointed to benign inflation that could make the Federal Reserve cautious about raising rates again this year, even as concerns lingered over rising tensions between the United States and North Korea.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 2.29-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.47-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.

"The won has recently been reacting quite sensitively to Trump's comments and investors' anxieties worsened today as the North came up with an aggressive response", said Jung Sung Yoon, a foreign exchange analyst at Hyundai Futures.

Possibly due to the lack of appetite for risk in the market, the euro suffered on Thursday, down slightly against the dollar by 0.09% at 1.1749, slipping towards a two week low.

"We would now be careful with a whiff of risk aversion in the air and, by extension, also stay away from shorts in the rates market", RBC's global macro strategist Peter Schaffrik said. Brent crude, used to price worldwide oils, gained 40 cents to $52.54 in London.

Shire fell 1.1%, as the pharmaceutical firm shares were hit by a downgrade to Equal Weight from Overweight by Barclays.

Brent crude LCOc1 was up 30 cents at $53.00 a barrel and USA crude was up 22 cents at $49.78.

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