Korean shares open lower amid escalating tensions over N. Korea

Technology and health care companies led USA stocks slightly higher in morning trading Friday, recouping some of the losses from the day before.

Hong Kong shed more than one percent and Shanghai also closed down, while Seoul shares continued their sell-off after slumping Wednesday, with the won again softening.

Nordstrom shares were up 1.63 percent at $45.60 following the apparel retailer's better-than-expected quarterly same-store sales.

Investors' unease over escalating tensions between the USA and North Korea had weighed on stocks earlier in the day, pushing gold and bond prices slightly higher.

Wall Street's so-called "fear gauge", the CBOE Volatility Index, meanwhile, hit the highest levels since Election Day on Friday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/wall-streets-fear-gauge-on-course-for-biggest-weekly-surge-in-2-years-2017-08-11), after a spike on Thursday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) closed down 204.69 points, or 0.93 percent, at 21,844.01, the S&P 500 (.SPX) lost 35.81 points, or 1.45 percent, to end the session at 2,438.21 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) fell 135.46 points, or 2.13 percent, to 6,216.87. The Dow slid 33.08 points, or 0.2 percent, to 22,085.34.

Manufacturing production in Jun was flat, as predicted, after falling 0.1% in May, while United Kingdom construction output badly missed forecasts fell 0.1% month on month and rose 0.9% year-on-year.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 39 cents to $49.95 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Humana rose $3.59, or 1.4 percent, to $253.81.

CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 109.48 yen from 109.85 late Wednesday. Investors welcomed new data showing USA inflation at the consumer level inched higher last month, suggesting that the Federal Reserve may be less likely to raise interest rates next month. Each fell at least 1.4%.

However, bank stocks, including Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley, were down about 1 percent on the dimming prospects of another rate hike this year. Oil prices were headed higher. The euro slid to $1.1752 from $1.1793. In a note to investors, Paul Christopher, head global market strategist, and Tracie McMillion, head of global asset allocation, suggest, "the threat of a nuclear weapon is certainly more serious than previous threats, but that threat also may increase the probability of a diplomatic solution". Germany's DAX was flat, while France's CAC 40 fell 1.1 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 sank 1.3 percent.

"As a portfolio manager, you say, 'Do I think we'll get a war out of this?' " said Torsten Slok, chief global economist at Deutsche Bank, referring to the bluster between North Korea and President Donald Trump.

In Asia, markets were mostly lower after disappointing Chinese trade data. Discovery Communications fell 94 cents, or 3.9 percent, to $23.36.

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