Defense stocks gain as North Korea fires missile

The major U.S. stock indexes pulled back in afternoon trading, defense stocks rallied following reports that North Korea fired an unidentified ballistic missile.

Both the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average trimmed their gains immediately after the news broke about the missile launch, while the Nasdaq flipped into negative territory. The Nasdaq has since returned to positive territory, and the S&P 500 and the Dow inched higher.

Earlier in the session, the Dow and the S&P 500 hit record intraday highs.

Defense stocks were benefiting from the latest missile launch with the likes of Northrop Gruman (NYSE:NOC), General Dynamics (NYSE:GD) and Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings (NYSE:GY), among others, all higher.

According South Korea's Yonhap News Agency, which first reported the launch, the missile flew eastward from the area around Pyongyang to the Sea of Japan. U.S. officials confirmed the missile launch to Fox News.

North Korea’s last missile launch was on Sept. 15.