Gold steady near 2-month highs on N. Korea tensions

Gold steady near 2-month highs on N. Korea tensions

USA equities steepened their losses late in the session after President Donald Trump said his earlier warnings to North Korea may not have been tough enough.

KOREA JITTERS: With President Donald Trump warning North Korea of "fire and fury", investors have become concerned that the war of words between Washington and Pyongyang could escalate.

Johannesburg/London - Gold prices climbed to two-month highs on Friday as investors sought refuge from escalating tensions between North Korea and the USA, while bullion also received support from weak USA inflation data.

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.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "The tensions between North Korea and the U.S.is an excuse for profit-taking", Seo Sang Young, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities.

The Nasdaq Composite lost 0.2 percent, to 6,370.46.

The euro dipped 0.1 percent to $1.1733 but the single European currency has been slipping this week against the dollar, having hit a more than 2 1/2-year high of $1.1892 on August 2. SPDR Gold Shares (GLD), which tracks gold bullion prices, climbed 0.74%.

On Friday, the S&P 500 rose 3.11 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,441.32. Bond and gold prices, traditional havens for nervous investors, were little changed, and the VIX, a measure of how much volatility investors expect in stocks, slid 6.7 percent following a 44.4 percent jump the day before.

US Treasury long-dated yields dropped to six-week lows, pressured by US-North Korea tensions and the weak data that further reduced expectations of an interest rate hike in December.

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The index was also dragged lower after Beijing ordered probes into three major Chinese social networking platforms over outlawed content. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, fell by 2.9 basis points to 2.212%.

The broader Topix shed 0.65 point to 1,617.25, while the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 shed 8.16 points, or 0.1 percent, to end at 14,367.56.

The influential financial stocks were among the biggest drags on the index, with Royal Bank of Canada down 1.5 percent to C$92.88, and Manulife Financial Corp falling 4.7 per cent to C$24.43, its largest drop since early August previous year.

Department store operator J.C. Penney (JCP) is also among the companies due to report their results before the start of trading on Friday.

France's CAC dropped 1.6 percent and Germany's DAX fell 1.3 percent.

The Japanese yen strengthened by 0.5 percent to around 109.70 per dollar.

The Swiss franc last stood at 1.1332 per euro, down slightly on the day.

United States gold futures gained 0.2% to $1,292.70.

US crude oil futures settled almost 2 per cent lower at $48.59 a barrel, as Russian Federation considered a future output resumption and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries boosted its July production numbers.

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