United States stocks open slightly higher

Mr Trump's remarks on Tuesday that North Korea would face "fire and fury like the world has never seen" pushed Wall Street lower, with only utilities making gains and drove the VIX "fear gauge" of expected volatility on the S&P 500 to its highest in nearly a month. The Swiss currency was also on track for its biggest daily gain against the euro since the Swiss National Bank removed its cap on the currency in January 2015.

Ongoing tensions between North Korea and the United States weighted on stock markets once again Friday.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 7 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,467 as of 10:19 a.m.

The wider S&P 500 index was up 0.13% at 2,441.32, while the Nasdaq climbed 0.64% to 6,256.56. The Dow slid 33.08 points, or 0.2 percent, to 22,085.34. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks slipped less than 1 point to 1,371.

"The unpredictable nature of North Korea means it is hard to gauge exactly how likely an attack is, yet given the military power of both nations, there is no surprise we are seeing markets shift out of risk assets and into havens such as the yen and gold", said IG market analyst Joshua Mahony, in a note.

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Between the new assembly and major food shortages, Maduro's government has sparked massive unrest in Venezuela. Meanwhile, Venezuela is also being pressurised by Peru, who has criticised its new constituent assembly .

The U.S. dollar set an eight-week low against the yen after U.S. President Donald Trump further ratcheted up the rhetoric, suggesting that his "fire and fury" comments may not have been tough enough.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region saw continued weakness during trading on Friday.

Shares of Macy's tumbled 9.5 percent and Kohl's 6.7 percent after the department store operators reported a drop in quarterly same-store sales that stoked concerns that their turnaround may still be a long way off. It's still the highest it's been since May.

That's below the target of 2%, which could convince the Federal Reserve to move more cautiously when it comes to raising interest rates. But some economists say the Fed may stand pat for the rest of 2017 unless inflation accelerates in coming months.

Investors bid up technology sector shares. The sector was the biggest decliner on Thursday. KLA-Tencor gained $2.52, or 2.9%, to $90.07, while Seagate Technology added 97 cents, or 3.1%, to $32.53.

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Canada's main stock index turned slightly higher in early trade on Wednesday, as gains for gold miners and energy companies with higher commodity prices offset falls among financials. Netflix also fell, giving up $4.57, or 2.6 percent, to $173.79.

Traders sold off utilities stocks.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 23 cents to settle at $48.82 a barrel on the on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The dollar was down 0.77 percent against the yen at 109.21 yen.

The biggest winners were high-flying companies like Apple, Amazon and Microsoft, all of which won at least 1 per cent after falling with the broader market in the prior sessions.

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After a dip of as much as 0.52 percent earlier in the day, Wall Street's three major indexes bounced off intraday lows. Germany's DAX was up 0.1%, while France's CAC 40 fell 1.1%. Britain's FTSE 100 added 0.1 percent. In Asia, several indexes closed lower overnight. South Korea's Kospi lost 1.7%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng slid 2%. The Japanese market was closed in observance of the Mountain Day holiday.

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