United States stocks tumble on North Korea worries

At 9:34am ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 54.06 points or 0.25% at 21,898.07. The AFP

The strength on Wall Street is partly due to bargain hunting, with traders picking up stocks at reduced levels following the pullback seen over the past few sessions.

North Korea responded with a statement by its official KCNA news agency claiming Trump is "driving" the Korean peninsula to the "brink of a nuclear war". And in a Friday morning tweet, Trump wrote: "Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!"

Trucking and software stocks are also seeing notable strength in mid-day trading, while steel stocks have moved sharply lower on the day.

Currently, the major averages remain in positive territory but off their best levels of the day.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq followed the Dow, falling 1.5 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively.

"As a portfolio manager, you say, 'Do I think we'll get a war out of this?'" said Torsten Slok, chief worldwide economist at Deutsche Bank, referring to the back and forth between North Korea and President Donald Trump. He also said the nuclear-armed nation should be "very, very nervous" if it even thinks about attacking the United States or its allies. He said that North Korea "can be very very nervous" if it acts on either the USA or its allies, and warned that "things will happen to them like they never thought possible".

The focus on North Korea largely overshadowed a Labor Department report showing an unexpected drop in USA producer prices in the month of July.

On the US economic front, a report released by the Labor Department showed a modest uptick in consumer prices in the U.S.in the month of July. Economists had expected another 0.1% uptick. Core prices had been expected to rise by 0.2%.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region saw continued weakness during trading on Friday.

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In the bond market, treasuries are extending the upward move seen over the two previous sessions.

"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.

In commodities, Crude failed to hold the 50 per barrel level, falling almost 2% topping at $50.22 earlier in the session.

Gold futures for December delivery hit their highest level since June, rising $3.90 to settle at $1,294 per ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 108.82 yen compared to the 109.20 yen it fetched at the close of NY trading on Thursday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.826 compared to yesterday's $1.1772.

Japan markets are closed for the Mountain Day holiday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index plunged by 2%, while South Korea's Kospi Index slumped by 1.7%.

Australian shares fell to near three-week lows in a broad-based selloff.

The last time the S&P closed down more than 1 percent was May 17 when it fell 1.8 percent. On the Nasdaq, 1,378 issues rose and 892 fell. On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite declined 0.68% and the Shenzhen Composite shed 0.52%.

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