Aug 11 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were modestly higher in late morning trading on Friday as investors cautiously dipped back into riskier assets, after a three-day losing streak on concerns over escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea.
Brewing tensions between the USA and North Korea put investors in a selling mood again Thursday, dragging US stocks lower for the third day in a row.
J.C. Penney slumped as much as 18.25 percent to a record low after the retailer reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 20 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,453 as of 10:09 a.m.
About 15 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 22,027.25, down 0.3 percent.
Travel website operator Priceline Group Inc PCLN.O fell 6.9 percent after a disappointing financial forecast.
OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 24 cents to $48.37 per barrel on the on the New York Mercantile Exchange while Brent crude, used to price global oils, declined 20 cents to $51.70 per barrel in London. Humana rose $3.59, or 1.4 percent, to $253.81.
U.S. crude rose 0.41 per cent to US$48.79 per barrel and Brent was last at US$52.01, up 0.21 per cent.
About 6.48 billion shares changed hands on USA exchanges on Wednesday compared with the 6.16 billion average for the last 20 sessions. Brent crude, used to price worldwide oils, added 59 cents to $53.29.
Sterling slipped below $1.30, close to a two-and-a-half-week low but it strengthened against the euro by 0.2%, following Tuesday's 10-month low. Wholesale gasoline was little changed at $1.62 a gallon, heating oil rose 2 cents to $1.65 a gallon and natural gas rose 6 cents to $2.88 per 1,000 cubic feet.
The pound was up 0.3% against the euro at 1.1091 and down nearly 0.1% on the dollar at 1.2994.
"With the North Korean authorities taking the heat off the nuclear threats, we expect the market pressure to cool off, as long as the US President also manages to read "truce" between the lines".
However, bank stocks, including Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley, were down about 1 percent on the dimming prospects of another rate hike this year.
Interim results from FTSE 100 listed drinks bottler Coca Cola Hellenic lifted its shares as they came in comfortably ahead of market expectations.
ASIA'S DAY: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 inched down less than 0.1 percent to finish at 19,729.74. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.6 percent.
But U.S. stocks regained some lost ground, despite Trump's comments Friday that U.S. weapons are "locked and loaded", ready to respond if North Korea acts "unwisely".