USA stocks closed slightly lower Wednesday, making up much of the ground they lost earlier after a rare batch of earnings disappointments by Walt Disney and other big companies. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index edged down by 0.1 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index tumbled by 1.1 percent.
Dow Jones Industrial Average traded 143 points, or 0.6%, lower at 21,915, as Apple Inc.(AAPL) shares dropped more than 2% and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.(GS) shares fell 1.7%. Earlier, the average had been down more than 88 points.
The Nasdaq composite slumped 135.46 points, or 2.1 percent, to 6,216.87. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 13.20 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,396.95.
"The calming influence on the markets was likely due to US Secretary of State Tillerson signalling military confrontation was not imminent", said Jim Reid at Deutsche Bank, with ex-Exxon Rex saying that "Americans should sleep well tonight, have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days" while on a plane post a tour of Southeast Asia.
World stocks fell for a third day on Thursday and investors moved back into the Swiss franc, yen and gold as North Korea ratcheted up tensions with the United States with a threat to land a missile just short of the US territory of Guam. Prices for bonds and gold headed higher.
The Swiss franc reversed a two-week losing streak, rising rose 1.12 per cent versus the greenback at 0.96 per dollar. The September copper contract was down two cents to US$2.91 a pound.
THE QUOTE: While the tough talk about the potential for nuclear war is scary, investors have heard it many times before.
Biotechnology stocks are turning in some of the market's worst performances in morning trading, resulting in a 1.6% drop by the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index.
Even so, Wall Street remains near record highs. "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".
JAPAN MACHINERY DISAPPOINTS: Orders for machinery in June, considered a leading economic indicator, were slower than analysts had forecast and at their weakest since May 2016. Brent crude LCOc1 was up 80 cents at $53.50 a barrel and USA crude was up 60 cents and back up to $50.
Disney shares closed down 3.9 percent as investors were skeptical of its plan to launch streaming services rather than rely on Netflix. The stock fell $169 to $1,879.98. The precious metal rose 1.3 percent in the previous session, its biggest gain since mid-May, and touched $1,278.66 an ounce, it highest level since June 14.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 39 cents to $49.95 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Oil prices edged higher after a report showed United States refineries processed record amounts of crude in the latest week, eating into inventories, although a surprise jump in gasoline stockpiles limited gains.