Stocks drift lower on Wall Street

Stocks drift lower on Wall Street

Stock markets were lower and the price of gold moved up amid political tensions between the United States and North Korea.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell less than a point to 2,474, making up much of the ground it lost earlier.

A weaker opening on Wall Street further added to the downward pressure in Europe.

"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.

"Although we certainly can get a 5 to 7 percent correction, we don't think it's the start of a significant bear market", Peterson noted. The index had its biggest drop since mid-May a day earlier.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.9 percent to end at 21,844.01, the only close below 22,000 since breaking through that level for the first time August 2. The Nasdaq added 39.68 points, or 0.6 percent, to 6,256.56.

The S&P had been down 0.52 percent at its session low.

The recovery fit a recent pattern of investors using dips to put more money in stocks.

More news: Trump Increases Rhetoric on North Korea, As His Aides Fight It Out

The influential financial stocks were among the biggest drags on the index, with Royal Bank of Canada down 1.0 percent to C$93.36, and Manulife Financial Corp falling 2.8 percent to C$24.93.

Until this week, the equity market had managed to shake off negative news, including previous saber-rattling over North Korea and failures in Washington to pass high-profile bills, such as repealing and replacing Obamacare.

In a tweet, President Donald Trump warned of military action "should North Korea act unwisely", noting that the U.S.is "locked and loaded".

Trump suggested in remarks on Thursday that his comments threatening North Korea with "fire and fury" may not have been tough enough.

The reclusive state raised the stakes further on Thursday with a detailed plan to send a salvo of missiles towards the U.S. territory of Guam.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region saw continued weakness during trading on Friday. Thus, investors were switching from stocks to safe-haven options. It's still the highest it's been since May.

The top-flight also sank lower as a number of stocks went ex-dividend, a process where new buyers no longer qualify for the latest dividend payment.

In the latest economic data, the consumer-price index (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-consumer-inflation-remains-soft-in-july-cpi-shows-2017-08-11) rose a seasonally adjusted 0.1% in July, its fifth straight month of softness, raising more questions about whether inflation will eventually rise to hit the Federal Reserve's 2% annual rate target. Over the next three months, the average gain has been good but not great - +1.15%.

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