Markets Right Now: Stocks drift lower on Wall Street

Stocks are lower at midday as investors weighed the growing tensions between the US and North Korea.

Wall Street stocks posted their biggest declines in almost three months Thursday as President Donald Trump doubled down on his warnings to North Korea over its nuclear program.

Developments regarding the situation with North Korea may remain in focus next week, although traders are also likely to keep an eye on reports on retail sales, housing starts, and industrial production.

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

Japanese markets were closed for a holiday but the tense mood dragged Asian shares lower and an MSCI index of stocks across the globe was on track to post its largest weekly drop since the week before Donald Trump won the USA presidential election in November.

Gold and Silver settled sharply higher in futures market on Wednesday amid a war of words between the USA and North Korea.

South Korea's KOSPI fell 1.8 percent to an 11-1/2-week low, but its losses for the week are a relatively modest 3.2 percent.

The precious metal miners benefited from the flight to safety, with bullion prices hitting near two-month highs on North Korean worries.

When Iraq invaded Kuwait 27 years ago this month, the S&P 500 fell 1.1 percent, and was down 9.3 percent 20 days later.

The Labor Department said its consumer price index inched up by 0.1 percent in July after coming in unchanged in June. Brent crude, used to price worldwide oils, added 4 cents to $52.74.

United States producer prices Thursday disappointed, as traders await consumer price inflation figures later Friday.

The Korean won also continued to skid, down 0.45 percent to 1,147.2, falling below its 200-day moving average for the first time in a month.

China's Shanghai Composite Index plunged 51.94 points or 1.6% to 3,209.80, as investors continued to book profits in cyclical sectors. It soared over 2 percent in the previous two sessions, and is set for a weekly gain of 2.25 percent.

Emerging market stocks lost 1.28 percent.

Shares of staffing firm Adecco slumped 6.4 percent after its results.

Markets are now awaiting U.S. consumer price data for July, due later in the session.

Overnight, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan had skidded 1.55 percent, its biggest one-day loss since mid-December, to leave it down 2.5 percent for the week.

But Michael said the overall market was still expected to saw-tooth its way higher due in part to a batch of better-than-expected earnings and low interest rates, despite the shift toward raising rates.

Gold prices, which hit a two-month low on Thursday, were steady at $1,286.31 an ounce, after surging over 2 percent in the past two sessions. Orders fell 4.7 percent from the previous quarter in April-June, suggesting demand is weaker than expected, though economists say such measures are not overly important.

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