Asian stocks lower as US, NKorea nuclear tensions rise

Asian stocks lower as US, NKorea nuclear tensions rise

United States stocks have been in retreat since President Donald Trump Tuesday issued a fiery warning to North Korea to halt its nuclear program.

Pharmaceutical giant Valeant grew 2 percent after news hit the market that the company recorded lower sales in the second quarter, but saw the operating loss significantly lower.

The VIX, a measure of Wall Street volatility, spiked more than 30% Thursday.

The Dow Jones industrials average gained 14.31 points, or 0.1%, to 21,858.32.

Earlier this week, Trump said the U.S. would unleash "fire and fury" on North Korea if it continued to threaten the U.S. North Korea has announced a detailed plan to launch a salvo of ballistic missiles toward the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, a major military hub and home to U.S. bombers. "What we're seeing today is political tensions over North Korea and the United States. making people nervous", said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Boston Private Wealth in NY.

South Korea's KOSPI fell 1.4 percent, taking its losses this week to almost 3 percent. S&P Capital IQ originally forecast earnings to grow by 6.2 percent.

The local currency was trading at 1,137.90 won against the United States dollar, down 2.70 won from the previous session's close.

Amid the hot rhetoric, US stocks sold off sharply on Thursday, with the S&P 500 falling more than 1 percent. MetLife fell 75 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $47.56, while Charles Schwab slid 69 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $41.33.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index lost 1.01 percent and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.12 percent.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index ended down 40.87 points, or 0.27 percent, at 15,033.38, its lowest close since July 7.

Simmering tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have come back to the boil in recent days after Pyongyang disclosed plans to fire missiles over Japan to land near America's Pacific territory of Guam.

"U.S. markets had previously been becalmed amidst the Goldilocks scenario of strong profit growth, low interest rates and full valuations". Kohl's Corp. also declined, giving up $2.43, or 5.8 percent, to $39.50.

J.C. Penney was down 17 percent after hitting a record low following the retailer's bigger-than-expected quarterly loss. Heating oil fell 1 cent to $1.63 a gallon. The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, retreated 0.7 percent.

Australian stock futures dropped 1.2 per cent and New Zealand stocks slid 1.1 per cent. Top automaker Hyundai Motor fell 2.07 percent to 142,000 won.

Elsewhere in commodities, the September crude contract advanced 20 cents to $49.76 per barrel and the September natural gas contract was up seven cents to $2.95 per mmBTU. Randgold Resources Ltd. and Barrick Gold Corp. were among the best performers, each gaining more than 2 per cent. Brent crude, used to price global oils, added 26 cents to $52.96. Silver also rose, gaining 43 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $16.82 an ounce.