Shares hit by US-North Korea tensions

A man watches a television screen showing U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a news program at the Seoul Train Station on Thursday.

While the German DAX Index closed just below the unchanged line, the UK's FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index both tumbled by 1.1%.

United States stocks ended lower on Thursday, and Asian markets fell sharply, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropping 2%. Additionally, China weighed in on the standoff, saying in an editorial in state-run Global Times that Beijing will intervene if the USA strikes first against North Korea.

ANALYST TAKE: "Equities look set to end this week on a downer, as geopolitical uncertainty regarding North Korea shakes volatility from its 2017 slumber", said Mike van Dulken, head of Research at Accendo Markets.

Johannesburg/London - Gold prices climbed to two-month highs on Friday as investors sought refuge from escalating tensions between North Korea and the U.S., while bullion also received support from weak United States inflation data.

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In other words, investors are dumping stocks and buying bonds, which many view as a safe haven in times of turmoil.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index lost 1.01 per cent and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.26 per cent for a weekly loss of 1.6 per cent, the largest since the week to November 4.

While the data gave investors appetite for growth sectors such as information technology and biotechnology it soured them to rate-sensitive stocks such as banks, said Keith Lerner, Chief Market Strategist, SunTrust Advisory services in Atlanta.

Several indexes closed lower overnight.

It all led to a loss of mojo for the Australian dollar, which slipped below 79 cents against the USA dollar in afternoon trade.

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THE QUOTE: "Risk-averse sentiment is dominating global equities markets, and US indices have retraced from record levels over the last two days".

Markets in Italy, France and Germany also saw declines. Traders there were also digesting a rise in jobless claims and the biggest drop in producer prices in 11 months.

"After today's data and commentary from Dudley, if we see even a near-miss on CPI tomorrow, I think the dollar has got quite a bit of room to sell off", Sweeting said. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, dipped by 2.3 basis points to 2.189 percent. To Reuters citing Peter Kenny, in charge of the market strategy in Global Markets Advisory Group, " market participants are looking for any reason for a reset of course.

The September crude contract was up 20 cents to US$49.76 per barrel and the September natural gas contract was up seven cents to US$2.95 per mmBTU. The price rose 1.3 per cent in the previous session, the biggest gain since mid-May.

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