Residents of the US territory Guam say they're afraid after being caught in the middle of rising tensions between President Donald Trump and North Korea, but Gov. Eddie Calvo reassured his constituents that there is no threat to the island.
The CBOE Volatility Index, the most widely followed barometer of expected near-term stock market volatility, was at its highest in more than a month.
Amid broad based weakness on Wall Street, biotechnology stocks turned in some of the market's worst performances on the day. The Swiss franc is a traditional safe haven.
"The yen is the big story really". The Nasdaq composite fell 35 points, or 0.5 percent, to 6,336.
That proximity has long placed it in North Korea's crosshairs, but the escalating war of words has put this territory of 160,000 civilians on edge.
Wall Street fell, giving up earlier gains that had sent the Dow to a fresh record high, after US President Donald Trump issued a warning to North Korea, illustrating intensifying tension between the two nations. The general also outlined plans to launch four Hwasong-12 ballistic missiles to strike the sea around USA territory Guam.
With the rhetoric rumbling on, Europe's top-rated German bond yield held near six-week lows.
Politics also lifted USA defense stocks. It usually moves opposite to stocks' movements and rises when the S&P 500 falls.
"North Korea was fodder for the overnight trade, and as we headed into today we haven't seen any more saber-rattling", said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade.
The Swiss franc jumped on Wednesday and higher yielding currencies such as the Australian dollar tumbled as the latest bout of geopolitical tensions emerging from the Korean Peninsula prompted investors to cut positions.
Officials from the South Korean presidential office earlier insisted the North Korean threat may have been aimed at multiple objectives, including causing the kind of confusion and chaos now seen in both South Korea and the United States, which in turn may weaken the alliance between the two, rather than signaling its actual or imminent armed provocation.
While European stocks have seen robust inflows in the wake of the French elections, their performance have lagged their USA rivals since mid June. A breach of some key technical levels also pushed gold higher.
"This inflation data for the month was not good". Brent crude, used to price global oils, gained 40 cents to $52.54 in London. The U.S. took back control of Guam on July 21, 1944. He said the North would finalize a plan by mid-August to fire four mid-range missiles hitting waters 30 to 40 kilometers (19 to 25 miles) away from the island.
Pyongyang, meanwhile, has been louder in its complaints against a new and tough round of sanctions imposed on it by the United Nations, with strong US backing, and Washington's use of Guam as a staging ground for its stealth bombers, which could be used to attack North Korea and are a particularly sore point with the rulers in Pyongyang.