Gold surges as United States and North Korea ratchet up nuclear tensions

Major earnings and North Korea worries set to claim the limelight on Wall Street

Financial markets rattled by sharp increase in tensions over North Korea

The spot gold price was up 0.7 per cent at $1,286.07 per ounce by 1400 GMT, after hitting an earlier high of $1,286.40, its highest level since June 8.

The market slide accelerated slightly in the last half-hour of trading as Trump denounced North Korea's nuclear program.

Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) futures are trading below fair value, as the tensions between the USA and North Korea amplify.

In the latest developments between the two countries' war of words, President Donald Trump issued another set of statements on Thursday, saying that his warning of bringing "fire and fury" to North Korea - if it continues its threats - may not have been "tough enough".

But if relations between North Korea and the United States worsen stock market losses could deepen.

The reclusive state raised the stakes further on Thursday with a detailed plan to send a salvo of missiles towards the USA territory of Guam. Elsewhere, Germany's DAX has dropped 0.7% and London's FTSE 100 is off 1.1%, putting it in on pace for its biggest single-day percentage loss since April.

Japanese markets were closed for a holiday, but the tense mood dragged Asian shares lower and an MSCI index of stocks across the globe posted its largest weekly drop since the week before Donald Trump won the United States presidential election in November.

"We're still close to the all-time high so that makes people a little nervous too, so they might say now might be the time to take a little bit of money off the table". The Nasdaq lost 135 points, or 2.1 percent, to 6,216. 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.

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"More likely than anything else, the price action was a function of an overextended U.S. equity market that has been in need for a healthy correction off record highs", LMAX Exchange analysts said in a morning note.

Investors await the headline U.S.consumer inflation data for July for more clues about future Fed decisions.

"Subdued participation this year and lean positioning suggests that market participants would have to play catch-up on a break higher", she said in a note. They are looking for confirmation that the Fed is sticking with plans for a possible December interest rate hike.

North Korea has said it may attack Guam in retaliation.

Shire fell 1.1%, as the pharmaceutical firm shares were hit by a downgrade to Equal Weight from Overweight by Barclays.

Ongoing global glut concerns lingered in oil markets despite a bigger-than-expected draw in USA crude inventories, leaving prices volatile.

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.

US crude rose 0.43 percent to $48.80 per barrel and Brent was last at $52.01, up 0.21 percent on the day.

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