USA stocks clawed back losses late on Wednesday as investors appeared to brush off geopolitical concerns after falling in the wake of President Donald Trump's "fire and fury" warning to North Korea. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 36.64 points, or 0.2 percent, to 22,048.70. Only utilities sector stocks eked out a gain on a day of mostly listless trading as investors kept an eye on the latest company earnings and geopolitical news.
Dow e-minis were up 6 points, or 0.03 percent, with 29,187 contracts changing hands at 8:34 a.m. ET (1234 GMT). Pyongyang said it was examining plans for attacking Guam, a US territory in the Pacific with a military base.
Gold is often seen as a safe haven for investors during uncertain times, such as the heated exchanges between U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean regime.
"Since these are the stocks that have been in the spotlight the most, they tend to have the most volatility upwards and downwards", said Chris Bertelsen, chief investment officer of Aviance Capital Management in Sarasota, Florida. South Korea's KOSPI was down 1.7 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng 1.8 percent.
Meanwhile, market bellwether Samsung Electronics Co. backtracked 0.65 percent, and top automaker Hyundai Motor was down 0.34 percent.
On the currency markets, the pound edged 0.2% lower versus the USA dollar at 1.298, as traders responded to another tranche of lacklustre data from the United Kingdom economy.
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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.
Computer hardware, semiconductor, and retail stocks are also seeing considerable weakness, while gold stocks are among the few groups bucking the downtrend. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dropped 1.2 per cent to 5,693.10.
Gold fell $2.10 to $1,262.60 an ounce. The contract fell 97 cents, or 2 per cent, to close at $48.59 a barrel on Thursday.
After a dip of as much as 0.52 percent earlier in the day, Wall Street's three major indexes bounced off intraday lows. Brent crude, used to price global oils, gained 10 cents to $52.24 in London.
The Nasdaq Composite, meanwhile, was facing its worst week since the one ended December 2, which logged a loss of just over 2%. The Russell 2000 index gave up 1.7 per cent to 1,372.54.
The dollar slipped to 109.26 yen from 109.85 late Wednesday. With one session left to go, the S&P 500 was headed for a weekly drop of around 1.6%, which would be its biggest since a fall of 1.9% for the week ended November 4, 2016. The euro strengthened to $1.1756 from $1.1752.
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