LONDON – Ongoing tensions between North Korea and the United States weighted on stock markets once again Friday.
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KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 was down 1.1 percent to 7,306, while France's CAC 40 fell 1.1 percent to 5,058. Germany's DAX fared better, trading only 0.2 percent lower at 11,989. Wall Street was poised for a soft opening with S&P futures and Dow futures both down 0.2 percent.
FIRE AND FURY: Keeping up his tough talk, U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's government should "get their act together" or face the consequences, and suggested that his earlier threat to unleash "fire and fury" on North Korea was too mild. The remarks, following North Korea's earlier revelation of a plan to launch a salvo of ballistic missiles toward the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, gave investors further incentive to take to the sidelines at least in stock markets.
ANALYST TAKE: "Equities look set to end this week on a downer, as geopolitical uncertainty regarding North Korea shakes volatility from its 2017 slumber," said Mike van Dulken, head of Research at Accendo Markets.
US DATA: The other potential driver in markets will be upcoming U.S. economic data, including monthly inflation figures, which could go a long way to determining expectations for the pace at which the Federal Reserve raises interest rates. Both the core and headline rates are expected to have risen by 0.2 percent during July.
THE QUOTE: "Inflation — or lack of —- has been an ongoing problem for the central bank and some policy makers have voiced concerns about this in recent months as they consider whether to raise interest rates again this year," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA. "Should we see another dip in inflation in July, it could make the job of building a consensus for another rate hike this year more difficult."
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ASIA'S DAY: Earlier, Asia bore the brunt of the mounting geopolitical uncertainty, with South Korea's Kospi index closing down 1.7 percent at 2,319.71 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng ending 2 percent lower at 26,883.51. Shanghai's main index also tumbled 1.6 percent to 3,208.54 while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dropped 1.2 percent to 5,693.10. Japan was closed on a public holiday.
OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 24 cents to $48.37 per barrel on the on the New York Mercantile Exchange while Brent crude, used to price international oils, declined 20 cents to $51.70 per barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The euro slipped 0.1 percent to $1.1176 while the dollar was steady at 109.20 yen.