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13 August 2017, 07:11 | Hattie Nash
Stock markets nosedived Thursday as investors continued moving into gold amid escalating political tensions between the United States and North Korea.
At 9:34 a.m. ET (1334 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 54.06 points, or 0.25%, at 21 898.07, the S&P 500 was up 5.23 points, or 0.21%, at 2 443.44.
In his latest warning to North Korea, US President Donald Trump said on Friday military solutions were "fully in place" and referred to American weapons as being "locked and loaded" should the nuclear-armed nation act "unwisely".
"A pullback is good so the market doesn't get unidirectional. If you think this is just rattling sabers, and it's just words, then you could view this as a buying opportunity".
Still, the S&P 500 is on track to post its biggest weekly loss in about nine months. Major stock indexes across Europe and Asia also posted weekly declines.
European markets open lower on Friday
The single-session equity put/call ratio jumped to 0.83 - the highest since April - and the 21-day moving average rose to 0.65. The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, popped almost 11 percent to 11.02.
"From a geopolitical perspective, we understand why the escalation in tensions will have shaken some of the complacency out of investors", said Eric Wiegand, senior portfolio manager at U.S. Bank Private Client Wealth Management.
The Chicago Board Options Exchange's Volatility Index, considered one of the best gauges of fear in the market, hit its highest level since May on Thursday. It slipped Friday but was up more than 50% for the week.
Bargain-seeking investors instead turned their focus to strength in the global economy and earnings toward the end of an active trading day.
J.C. Penney Co. (JCP) slumped 17% after it reported a wider-than-expected second-quarter loss (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/jc-penney-shares-sink-after-losses-exceed-expectations-2017-08-11).
The Russian dollar-traded index RTS was down 1.49 percent, and ruble-traded MICEX fell 1.29 percent by midday. And Blue Apron shares dipped after its first earnings report as a public company. The September copper contract was down two cents to $2.91 a pound.
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Overall it has been a strong stretch for corporate profits.
US DATA: The other potential driver in markets will be upcoming USA 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. Yields on bonds move inversely to their price.
The Labor Department said its Consumer Price Index edged up 0.1 percent last month, which was below the 0.2 percent rise expected by economists polled by Reuters.
Friday's report was the latest in a string of lackluster inflation readings, which have surprised many investors who had entered the year betting on an upsurge in economic growth and inflation. Both are voting members this year on the Fed's rate-setting committee.
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