Wall Street reels under North Korea tensions, tepid retail earnings

Donald Trump's stand-off with North Korea is having a bearing on the markets

It had gained about 3% for the week so far.

And when the S&P 500 breaks a streak of 50+ trading days without a 1%+ up move, the index actually averages a decline over the next month and a gain of just 0.86% over the next three months.

"It looks like it was used as a good excuse to adjust positions", he said, referring to the latest flare-up of tensions between the United States and North Korea. "And while risks remain elevated from a geopolitical perspective, valuations are not necessarily excessive, though full".

Oil also regained momentum as data pointed to declining U.S. inventories.

Read:Few investors are excited about stocks.

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U.S. President Donald Trump issued a new threat to North Korea, saying American weapons were "locked and loaded" as Pyongyang accused him of driving the Korean Peninsula to the brink of nuclear war.

So far it's just been a war of words between the USA and North Korea so the rally has just been a normal reaction to the possibility of a geopolitical event. The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 1%, while benchmarks in Hong Kong and South Korea - which had been one of the best performers of 2017 - closed down 2% and 1.7% respectively, Friday, putting the week's drop at 2.5% and 3.2%. The Fed, which raised its key interest rate in March and June, has signaled it plans a third rate hike before the end of this year.

The bigger surprise is that the cost to protect against declines in the kiwi against the USA dollar for one month shot up to the most expensive levels since April.

Apart from geopolitical worries, some technical analysts like Tom McClellan, editor of the McClellan Market Report, blamed seasonality for this week's retreat given August's record as a weak month for stocks.

He said that North Korea "can be very very nervous" if it acts on either the United States or its allies, and warned that "things will happen to them like they never thought possible".

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Data showed US producer prices unexpectedly fell in July, recording their biggest drop in almost a year, while another set showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week.

THE QUOTE: "Inflation - or lack of -- has been an ongoing problem for the central bank and some policy makers have voiced concerns about this in recent months as they consider whether to raise interest rates again this year", said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA.

But in the US, Wall Street stocks rose as investors waded back into the market following a three-day sell-off, with high-flying technology companies like Apple and Microsoft doing especially well. The 30-year bond was last up 4/32 in price to yield 2.7871 per cent, from 2.794 per cent late on Thursday.

Markets remained concerned over the risk of a U.S. first-strike against North Korean nuclear facilities.

"The level of risk aversion we're seeing suggests traders still believe the prospect of military action is very small but precautions are still being taken nonetheless, as this still has the potential to escalate very quickly and unexpectedly". Seagate shares rose 74 cents to $32.29.

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Australian shares were down 1.2 percent, set for a weekly loss of 0.5 percent.

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