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S&P closes barely lower despite North Korea tensions

S&P closes barely lower despite North Korea tensions

The rally has pushed stock valuations to an nearly two-year high.

The market indexes wavered between small gains and losses for much of the morning, then veered lower by afternoon.

Health care equipment and services company Henry Schein declined amid a broader slide by health care stocks.

Adding to the modest losses posted in the two previous sessions, stocks moved sharply lower over the course of the trading day on Thursday.

The franc's surge against the dollar is likely to flush out some leveraged bets as some hedge funds had used the lower yielding franc as a borrowing currency to invest in others, such as euro assets, in the last three weeks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 33.08 (-0.15 percent) to finish at 22,085.34. Earlier, the average had been down more than 88 points.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite bore the brunt of the sell-off, losing 135.46 points, or 2.1 percent, to 6,216.87. It ended the day at around 11, a daily gain of about 1.2. It hit a 15-month low of 92.548 on August 2.

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"The market has been looking for an excuse to sell off and North Korea and the president gave the market that excuse", said David Schiegoleit, managing director at the U.S. Bank Private Client Wealth Management.

Safe-haven demand rose after North Korea said it was "carefully examining" a plan to strike Guam, where a US military base is located, shrugging off President Donald Trump's earlier warning that further threats to the United States will be met with "fire and fury". Trump's comments followed reports that the North has mastered a technology needed to strike the United States with a nuclear missile.

Asian stocks turned lower on Thursday as investors fretted about the latest flare-up of tensions between the United States and North Korea, sending Seoul shares skidding to two-month lows even as the previous day's rush into safe-haven assets appeared to slow.

Spot gold added 1.2 percent to $1,275.60 an ounce. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.26 percent.

"North Korea best not make any more threats to the U.S.", Trump said. "I would expect the markets to react again pretty negatively to any more tough talk from either side, but for now, everybody seems to have settled down, and we'll see what happens".

Travel website operator Priceline Group Inc fell 6.9 per cent after a disappointing financial forecast. The stock lost $142.20 to $1,906.80. The stock lost $4.15 to $102.83.

Gold fell $2.10 to $1,262.60 an ounce. Banks and department store shares also were among the big decliners. Discovery Communications fell 70 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $23.60. Its shares slid $9.77, or 5.3 percent, to $174.02.


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