FTSE falls as North Korea details strike plan

Escalating tensions over North Korea's nuclear ambitions rattled investors Thursday, pulling global stock benchmarks lower.

Gold futures surged on Wednesday, to settle with their sharpest daily rise since mid May amid rising military tensions between the USA and North Korea.

In the Dow, declines in shares of Merck and those of DuPont, recently down 0.9 per cent and 0.8 per cent respectively, outweighed gains in shares of Apple and those of Microsoft, recently up 1.3 per cent and 0.7 per cent respectively.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is attending the forum, skipped the gala dinner where the two ministers spoke but is expected along with the 24 other top diplomats from region to be in the same room as North Korea's representative at a session later Monday. "Risk aversion is still very much a concern for markets", said Shaun Osborne, chief currency strategist at Scotiabank in Toronto.

Baek said the South Korean military authorities maintained a complete defence readiness in preparation for several possible situations, urging North Korea "to stop provocation and change attitude".

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 36.64 points to 22,048.70, the S&P 500 index inched down 0.90 of a point to 2,474.02 and the Nasdaq composite index lost 18.13 points to 6,352.33. TMX Group Ltd was up 3.5 percent to C$68.23, while Quebecor Inc added 2.9 percent to C$44.60.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies shed 13.20 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,396.95.

North Korea said it was considering plans to fire missiles at Guam, a USA -held Pacific island, after President Trump's warning on Tuesday.

A statement attributed to North Korea's head of strategic forces, General Kim Rak Gyom, said the plan for the strike would be ready by the middle of the month and would await orders from leader Kim Jong-un. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged down almost 0.1 percent to 5,760.90, while South Korea's Kospi fell 0.5 percent to 2,357.84.

An index of 15 gold miners tracked by Bloomberg Intelligence climbed 1.1 per cent, led by Toronto-based Yamana Gold Inc.

Priceline sank 7.8 percent as it projected third-quarter earnings below Wall Street analyst expectations.

The Japanese yen strengthened 0.08 per cent versus the greenback at 110.00 per dollar.

U.S. crude shed 12 United States cents to US$49.05 a barrel, while Brent crude fell 18 USA cents a barrel at US$51.96 a barrel.

The Russell 2000 is up 39.82 points, or 2.9 percent. Brent crude, used to price global oils, gained 56 cents to $52.70 in London. The South African Rand slipped to its weakest position against the US Dollar in a month on Wednesday, a day after widely unpopular President Jacob Zuma survived a vote of no confidence in Parliament.

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