Global stock prices slide Wednesday after President Donald Trump and North Korea traded threats over the North's nuclear program.
KEEPING SCORE: In early trading, France's CAC 40 fell 1.5 percent to 5,141.37 points and Germany's DAX lost 1.2 percent to 12,144.54. London's FTSE 100 shed 0.8 percent to 7,481.30. On Tuesday, the DAX added 0.3 percent, the CAC 40 gained 0.2 percent and the FTSE rose 0.1 percent. On Wall Street, the future for the Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.4 percent and that for the Dow Jones industrial average lost 0.1 percent.
ASIA'S DAY: Tokyo's Nikkei 225 tumbled 1.3 percent to 19,738.71 and Seoul's Kospi fell 1.1 percent to 2,368.39. The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.2 percent to 3,275.57 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was off 0.3 percent at 27,757.09. India's Sensex shed 0.5 percent to 31,846.73 and benchmarks in Taiwan and Southeast Asia declined. Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.5 percent to 5,773.70 while New Zealand also rose.
KOREA JITTERS: Trump and North Korea traded escalating threats, heightening fears that a miscalculation might spark conflict. Trump warned that the North would be met "with fire and fury." Pyongyang said it was examining plans for attacking Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific with a military base. The comments follow reports that the North has mastered a technology needed to strike the United States with a nuclear missile.
KOREAN STOCKS: Investors didn't panic but saw Trump's comments as a chance to take profits, said Seo Sang Young, a market strategist at Kiwoom Securities in Seoul. "It will not last long," said Seo. He noted that when the North test-fired a missile in July, stocks rose. "Geopolitical risks don't really influence Korean markets," he said. "They may increase the market's volatility for a couple of days."
WALL STREET: Losses in health care and consumer-focused companies pulled U.S. stocks lower, snapping a 10-day winning streak for the Dow Jones industrial average. Energy stocks fell along with crude prices as investors kept an eye on the latest company earnings and geopolitical news. The market slide accelerated slightly in the last half-hour of trading as Trump denounced North Korea's nuclear program. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.2 percent, to 2,474.92. The Dow slid 0.2 percent to 22,085.34. Both were coming off record highs. The Nasdaq composite lost 0.2 percent, to 6,370.46.
U.S. ECONOMY: Employers posted a record number of open jobs in June while a survey of small businesses showed optimism improving. Job openings jumped 8 percent to 6.2 million, the Labor Department said Tuesday. The number of people quitting their jobs also dropped. The data suggest employers have plenty of jobs to fill but are struggling to find workers. The NFIB small business optimism index rose to 105.2 in July from 103.6 in June. 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.
FED WATCH: Investors looked ahead to an appearance Thursday by Bill Dudley, president of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of New York, for signs of the Fed's outlook on the economy. They are looking for confirmation that the Fed is sticking with plans for a possible December interest rate hike.
ANALYST'S TAKE: The U.S. jobs figure "was through the roof" and the NFIB survey "painted a much better picture for the U.S. economy than most believed," Stephen Innes of OANDA said in a report. Against that backdrop, Dudley might provide an upbeat outlook and confirm that the Fed is on track for a rate hike, said Innes. Still, he said, "the Washington, D.C., bedlam and North Korea's saber-rattling is muddying the broader landscape."
CURRENCY: The dollar declined to 109.77 yen from Tuesday's 110.34. The euro edged down to $1.1727 from $1.1751.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 1 cent to $49.18 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract shed 22 cents on Tuesday to close at $49.17. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 10 cents to $52.24 in London. It declined 23 cents on Tuesday to $52.14.