Global stocks slide as US-North Korea nuclear tensions rise

Global stocks slide as US-North Korea nuclear tensions rise

In currencies, the yen strengthened 0.64% versus the greenback at 109.37 per dollar.

"What has changed this time is that the scary threats and war of words between the USA and North Korea have intensified to the point that markets can't ignore it", said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital in Sydney. "Risk aversion is still very much a concern for markets", said Shaun Osborne, chief currency strategist, at Scotiabank in Toronto.

Disappointing quarterly results from big department store chains also weighed down the market.

The broader All Ordinaries index was down 67.1 points, or 1.15 per cent, at 5,743.5 points. Macy's was down 4.4 percent after the company said its sales continued to decline in the second quarter.

NAB, which lifted its third-quarter cash profit five per cent to $1.7 billion, closed down one per cent at $30.17, while Westpac fell 1.3 per cent to $31.61 and the Commonwealth Bank declined 0.7 per cent to $80.50. Oil prices were headed higher. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index has fallen by 0.8 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index are down by 1.5 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively. The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell to 2.255 percent from its U.S. close of 2.282 percent on Tuesday.

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In commodities, USA crude fell 0.67% to $49.23 per barrel and Brent was last at $52.58, down 0.23% on the day.

In company news, News Corp shares dropped by $1.00, or 5.4 per cent, to $17.40 after the company reported a full-year loss of $US643 million ($A818 million), courtesy of lower ad revenues in its news business, and writedowns of fixed assets at its Australian and United Kingdom newspapers and its investment in Foxtel. Natural gas jumped 10 cents, or 3.5 percent, to $2.99 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The euro, which hit its highest since the start of 2015 on August 2, dipped 0.1 percent to $1.1761 in morning trade in Europe.

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEST was $US1,285.47 per fine ounce, from $US1,278.48 per fine ounce on Thursday.

REA Group shares fell $4.07 cents, or almost six per cent, to $64.35 after its full-year net profit slipped 19 per cent to $206.3 million.

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The euro was 0.1 percent weaker at 129.600 yen and the Australian dollar slipped 0.2 percent to 87.13 yen.

The dollar notched a two-month trough on the safe-haven Japanese yen and was last down 0.3 percent at 109.99.

"The direction in global equities will likely play a major role in the yen's direction today, while the market will also be interested to see what comes of US CPI data".

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 inched down less than 0.1 percent to finish at 19,729.74. Economists had expected productivity to increase by 0.7 percent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged down almost 0.1 percent. The 1.3 percent gain for the market's main other choice for borrowing to fund speculation, the Swiss franc against the euro, is its biggest rise in more than a year.

Asia report: Markets mixed as North Korea tensions tighten
The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 13.20 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,396.95. Its decline of 2.6% since Monday's close was its biggest since the three days ended September 9.