Ongoing global glut concerns lingered in oil markets despite a bigger-than-expected draw in USA crude inventories.
USA stock index futures were lower on Thursday as investors remained cautious in the face of continuing tensions between the United States and North Korea.
But the yen added to an already-strong weekly rally of close to 1.5 percent, hitting its highest in nearly four months versus the dollar at 108.73 yen. The Swiss franc and the Japanese yen also rose.
OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude added 7 cents to $49.24 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
"It's fantastic when you consider the headlines just how calm the equity markets are, how they've taken things in their stride", said Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist at LPL Financial in Charlotte, North Carolina. The stock was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500, losing $166.50 to $1,882.50.
"The stand-off between the two countries has encouraged dealers to dump stocks and seek safe haven investments like gold". The euro zone's version is at its highest since April, when France's election was rattling the region. 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. Singapore shares also ended in negative territory as increasingly bellicose talk between the United States and North Korea prompted investors to take money off the table, while traders trimmed positions ahead of the weekend. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.23 percent from 2.26 percent late Tuesday. "Pretty remarkable, perhaps even extraordinary, considering", said Tim Ash, strategist at fund manager BlueBay. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.6 percent lower. Increased geopolitical concerns between the United States and North Korea limited the S&P 500's upward movement. USA gold futures gained 0.26 percent to $1,293.50 an ounce.
While gold, a safe-haven favorite, pared some gains, it was last up 1.2 percent, at around its highest since mid-June.
Crude futures meanwhile extended losses on fears of slowing demand and lingering concerns over global oversupply. 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. Each fell at least 1.4%. Copper, the bellwether industrial metal, was set for its first weekly drop in five weeks.
Investors also drew some encouragement from new government data showing USA inflation at the consumer level inched higher last month.
"Today's inflation data put the Fed on pause and really diminishes the fact that there's still some noise going around with the North Korea-U.S. situation", said Phil Blancato, CEO of Ladenburg Thalmann Asset Management.