Gold hovers near two-month highs on N.Korea tensions

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

Safe havens benefited from the move away from stocks - gold rising again to around $1,290 an ounce after surging 1.3 percent Wednesday - but other risky assets such as oil and copper held their price. That "looks high enough to be consistent with a 5 percent-plus pace for real GDP growth", Jim O'Sullivan of High Frequency Economics said in a report.

Macy's stock has reversed earlier losses, now up 1.4% in pre-market trading.

At the London equities close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.1%, the S&P 500 index up 0.2% and the Nasdaq Composite up 0.3%.

North Korea said it was considering plans to fire missiles at Guam, a US -held Pacific island, after President Donald Trump on Tuesday warned the nuclear-armed nation that it would face "fire and fury" if it threatened the United States.

European stock markets fell further in opening trade on Friday on intensifying fears over North Korea, dealers said. Pyongyang said it was examining plans for attacking Guam, a USA territory in the Pacific with a military base. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 tumbled 1.3 percent to 19,738.71 while Seoul's Kospi fell 1.1 percent to 2,368.39.

"More likely than anything else, the price action was a function of an overextended United States equity market that has been in need for a healthy correction off record highs", LMAX Exchange analysts said in a morning note.

"I'll tell you why, and they should be very nervous".

North Korea said it was completing plans to fire four intermediate - range missiles over Japan to land near the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam. The Nasdaq lost 135 points, or 2.1 percent, to 6,216.

FED WATCH: Investors looked ahead to an appearance Thursday by Bill Dudley, president of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of NY, for signs of the Fed's outlook on the economy. "The market is interpreting it as lowering the odds of the Fed raising rates in December", said Keith Lerner, chief market strategist at SunTrust Advisory Services in Atlanta.

Mounting tensions lifted US defense stocks.

If the North Korean regime "does anything" to the United States or a USA ally "things will happen to them like they never thought possible", he told reporters on Thursday, according to Bloomberg.

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

In currencies, the yen rose 0.8 percent versus the greenback at 109.2 per dollar (JPY=), the strongest level for the Japanese currency since mid June. The hardest-hit currencies were those of New Zealand, South Korea, Brazil and India. "Indeed, the biggest increases in the price of gold have occurred when the U.S. bombed Libya in 1986, in the wake of the Gulf War in 1990, and, more recently, when ISIS attacks put oil supplies in the Middle East at risk".

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