Gold rose as much as 1.2 percent to a near two-month high, while the Swiss franc was on track to post its biggest single day rise in about two-and-a-half years. In Japan, the Nikkei closed in the red ahead of Friday's national holiday, dropping 0.1%.
"Amid all the sabre-rattling, we expect gold prices to continue to move higher and likely cross the $1,300 an ounce mark in relative short order", said INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir.
The market slide accelerated slightly in the last half-hour of trading as Trump denounced North Korea's nuclear program. The Dow slumped by 1.1 percent, while the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 tumbled by 1.5 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.
'Stock markets in Europe are still under pressure because of the heightened tensions surrounding North Korea, ' said David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK. The reclusive state raised the stakes further with a detailed plan to send a salvo of missiles towards the USA territory of Guam.
Dow e-minis were down 35 points, or 0.16 percent, with 37,467 contracts changing hands at 8:40 a.m. ET (1240 GMT).
North Korea said it was considering plans to fire missiles at Guam, a USA -held Pacific island, after President Trump's warning on Tuesday. In three days. the Nasdaq has lost 2.6% - the most since last September.
"We're still close to the all-time high so that makes people a little nervous too, so they might say now might be the time to take a little bit of money off the table". Hong Kong's Hang Seng dipped 1.1 percent to 27,444.00.
The U.S. consumer-price index, set for release before Wall Street opens, will be closely monitored by investors for clues on inflation and the Fed's next move, said Mr. Kamal. The Aussie dollar recoiled 0.5 per cent on its USA counterpart to US$0.7872 and touched a three-week trough at one point.
In currencies, the yen rose 0.8 percent versus the greenback at 109.2 per dollar (JPY=), the strongest level for the Japanese currency since mid June.
Investors are losing enthusiasm for Canada's banking stocks as a slowdown in the country's housing market dents banks' growth prospects, with insurance companies seen as a better bet to benefit from higher interest rates.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 28 cents to $49.84 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The euro edged down to $1.1727 from $1.1751. On commodities markets, oil advanced with United States crude nearing $50 a barrel after figures from industry group the American Petroleum Institute showed a sharp decrease in stockpiles, a clear indication of the easing supply glut.