S&P closes barely lower despite N. Korea tensions

S&P closes barely lower despite N. Korea tensions

US officials attempt to calm US-North Korea tension appeared to sedate anxious investors.

The dollar slipped to as low as 109.11 yen in early Asian trade on Friday, its lowest level since June 14, when the greenback had fallen to as low as 108.81 yen.

"The comments by the State Secretary is a message that nothing important has been decided on North Korea", Haruki Kawaguchi, a manager in the stock trading department at Marusan Securities, told Bloomberg News.

"What has changed this time is that the scary threats and war of words between the U.S. and North Korea have intensified to the point that markets can't ignore it", said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital in Sydney.

Instead, he said his statement "maybe wasn't tough enough".

Efforts by the United States to dial down rhetoric have failed to shift the bearish mood among investors.

Wall Street's widely followed measure of market anxiety, the CBOE Volatility index, was up 0.79 points at 16.77 on Friday, its highest since November. "For quite some time the market hasn't really reacted to things on the Korean Peninsula because we know from the past it is largely North Korean sabre-rattling, and it may yet be".

'Traders are on red alert as the mention of war has sent them running for cover.

With the rhetoric rumbling on, Europe's top-rated German bond yield held near six-week lows.

There were fewer signs of anxiousness in the markets Friday.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were down 0.12%, S&P 500 futures fell 0.21%, and Nasdaq futures slid 0.32%.

Oil prices nudged lower with global benchmark Brent crude down 0.31%, and US benchmark West Texas Intermediate down 0.45% recently extending Thursday's selloff following an OPEC report which said the cartel's July production rose 0.5% from June.

The Korean People's Army said yesterday it was carefully examining plans for a missile attack on the US Pacific territory of Guam. These have ranged from an investigation into Russia's possible interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, to concern about China's risky debt levels, to stubbornly low inflation in the US. That's the index's lowest level in two months.

Winners and Losers: Among the tech leaders, Apple, Inc.'s shares jumped 1.39 percent and Microsoft Corporation climbed 1.53 percent. Netflix also fell, giving up $2.58, or 1.4 percent, to $175.78. The consumer discretionary index was one of its biggest losers with a 0.47 percent drop. US crude was down 0.9 percent at $48.16 per barrel, on track for a weekly loss of 2.9 percent.

Emerging market stocks lost 1.03 per cent. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.63 per cent lower, while Japan's Nikkei lost 1.29 per cent.

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 5/32 in price to yield 2.2255 percent, from 2.242 percent late on Wednesday.

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

Retailers Wal-Mart (WMT), Home Depot (HD), Target (TGT), Staples (SPLS), and Gap (GPS) are also among the companies due to report their quarterly results next week.