Markets Right Now: Stocks drop, led by technology companies

Persistent gold buying by local jewellers at domestic spot market stoked uptrend

In his latest warning to North Korea, U.S. 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".

Wall Street's fear gauge - the CBOE Volatility Index or the VIX - surged 44%, its second-biggest one-day jump of the year.

High-flying technology names suffered outsized losses on the day, with Apple falling 3.2 per cent, Amazon 2.6 per cent and Facebook 2.2 per cent. Biotech companies Celgene and Amgen lost 3.8 per cent and 2.6 per cent, respectively.

Singapore banks led the decline, with DBS Group shedding 2.2 per cent or 46 cents to $20.80; OCBC Bank fell 12 cents or 1.1 per cent to $11.20; United Overseas Bank Group lost 1.3 per cent or 33 cents to $24.20.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 34.61 points, or 0.56 percent, at 6,251.48.

The VIX rose further on Wednesday, rising as far as 12.11, its highest in nearly a month.

Iranian parliament approves anti-US bill
The parliament's majority voted for the bill, which was a response to the USA new sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Iran's parliament approved the first step of a bill to boost Tehran's missile program spending, on Sunday.

North Korea has since threatened to launch missiles at the US territory of Guam, and the country previously threatened "all-out war, wiping out all the strongholds of enemies, including the USA mainland".

Seven of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were higher, with the technology's 0.36% rise leading the advancers.

On Friday, an MSCI index of stocks across the globe posted its largest weekly drop since the week before Trump won the U.S. presidential election in November.

"Given the great run we've had, seems like some sort of pullback wouldn't be surprising", said Michael Baele, managing director of investments at U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management.

MSCI's main index of Asia-Pacific shares, excluding Japan, was last down 0.6 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index plunged by 2%, while South Korea's Kospi Index slumped by 1.7%.

The Japanese yen strengthened by 0.5 per cent to around 109.70 per dollar.

Futures lower as N.Korea tensions extend to third day
Hong Kong slumped 2.04 per cent, Shanghai slipped 1.63 per cent, Korea shed 1.69 per cent, Jakarta fell 1.03 per cent. Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE 6-to-1; on Nasdaq, a 3.60-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The Swiss franc reversed a two-week losing streak and gained 1.1 per cent to as firm as 0.9611 per dollar. It was last up 1.2 percent at 1.1305 per euro. "When earnings are not beating expectations there's a sell off in the companies, and we're just not seeing that money reinvested because of the geopolitical risks".

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 108.82 yen compared to the 109.20 yen it fetched at the close of NY trading on Thursday.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 2.20 percent from 2.25 percent late Wednesday.

Yields on core government debt fell. While the German DAX Index has edged down by 0.1%, the French CAC 40 Index and the UK's FTSE 100 Index are both down by 1%.

"But looking ahead unless we start to see a conflict break out or a major stock market correction, (gold) is capped at 1,295 (although) the upside at moment is the favored direction". Bent crude, the global benchmark, rose 19 cents to $52.33 a barrel.

NAACP Condemns 'Unite the Right' Hate Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia
The incidents came hours after violent clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters amid rising tensions in the city. According to AP, the individual suspected of being behind the wheel of the auto during the attack is in custody.

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