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12 August 2017, 09:42 | Kelvin Horton
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US stock indexes were set to open little changed on Friday, with the S&P 500 on track to post its biggest weekly loss in nine months, as investors remained cautious on heightened tensions between the United States and North Korea.
The S&P 500 index was down 18.45 points to 2,455.57 and the Nasdaq composite index was down 68.32 points to 6,284.01.
The broad-based Stoxx Europe 600 stock index dropped 0.5 percent in early trading, with key indices, such as Britain's FTSE 100, Germany's DAX and France's CAC all down 0.5 percent or more.
This followed comments from Trump on Tuesday night that North Korea would face "fire and fury like the world has never seen", if it continued to threaten the USA along with its attempts to build a nuclear warhead that could hit the western US.
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.
Increased geopolitical concerns between the U.S. and North Korea limited the S&P 500's upward movement. Sony Corp. shares in Tokyo dropped 1.6 percent.
Oil prices were under pressure (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-prices-head-lower-as-global-tensions-continue-unabated-2017-08-11), with prices ticking lower after the International Energy Agency said oil supply rose for a third month as compliance with an OPEC output deal faltered.
The last time the S&P closed down more than 1 percent was May 17 when it fell 1.8 percent.
The price of gold hit a two-month high of $1284.87 an ounce as investors moved away from shares. "This is not the first time the markets are playing the off-again, on-again scenario", said analyst Naeem Aslam at Think Markets, that's why the uncertainty in equities has eased down faster, especially if compared to yesterday's sell off.
Only utilities sector stocks eked out a gain on a day of mostly listless trading as investors kept an eye on the latest company earnings and geopolitical news.
Nevsun Resources Ltd offset some of the material group's gains, plunging 18.4 percent to C$2.685 after the company reported disappointing quarterly results.
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US crude oil futures settled almost 2 percent lower at $48.59 a barrel, as Russian Federation considered a future output resumption and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries boosted its July production numbers. Natural gas gained 2 cents to $2.82 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Asian markets fell sharply, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropping 2%, while United States stocks had ended lower on Thursday.
Korea's Samsung Electronics fell 2.8% Friday.
But the safe-haven Japanese yen strengthened 0.33 percent versus the greenback at 110.39 per dollar.
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