Stocks slide on continued concern over tension between U.S. and North Korea

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Brent crude, used to price worldwide oils, added 4 cents to $52.74.

"The typical text book trade is that investors rush for safe havens".

"They will be met with fire and the fury like the world has never seen".

Investors retreated from several of this year's top performers on Thursday, including shares of large US technology companies and biotechnology firms, while lifting shares of utilities companies - often thought of as bond proxies due to their relatively hefty dividends.

"That may have weighed a little bit" on markets, said Phil Guarco, global investment specialist at J.P. Morgan Private Bank.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 50 points, or 0.2 percent, to 22,032. The S&P 500 closed 0.04% lower while the Nasdaq Composite closed at 6352.33, down 0.28%.

The dollar index .DXY , which measures against a basket of currencies, fell 0.05 percent.

BONDS: Bond prices rose. Shares of Macy's lost 10%, and Kohl's fell 5.8%. Ben Cardin, the Foreign affairs committee's top Democrat, compared Trump's comments to those issued by North Korea itself.

Demand for safe haven assets moderated after gaining overnight in response to President Donald Trump's Tuesday warning of "fire and fury" if North Korea continued to make threats against the U.S. The hermit state responded to Trump's rhetoric by suggesting it could strike Guam. The stock jumped, up 21.6 percent as of 3.40pm, after the maker of luxury handbags and apparel posted results that exceed expectations.

At its worst, the FTSE 100 was down 121 points, or 1.6%, at around 3pm, also pressured by some companies going ex-dividend, and disappointing export and construction data. The trend appeared to overshadow strong quarterly revenue growth in the quarter.

Shares of staffing firm Adecco ( Adecco Group) slumped 6.4 percent after its results.

Six of the S&P 500 sectors ended higher. Despite the losses, Noble shares rose 17.14 percent. Brent crude edged down by 0.13 percent to trade at $51.82 a barrel and US crude shed 0.06 percent to trade at $48.56. WTI was last trading at $49.10 a barrel while Brent was at $52.00.

France's CAC dropped 1.2 per cent and Germany's DAX fell 1.1 per cent. Natural gas gained 2 cents to $2.82 per 1,000 cubic feet. Against the yen, the greenback traded down at Yen109.20 versus Yen110.06 late on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, the New Zealand dollar slid 0.9 percent to $0.7273.

Gold prices dipped lower in US trading on Tuesday following the latest US job-openings data which increased confidence in the labour market and also triggered sharp dollar gains as EUR/USD declined to 10-day lows below 1.1720.

Stocks ended more than one percent down in Seoul while the won slumped to a three-week low against the dollar as the USA president and South Korea's volatile neighbor dramatically ramped up their war of words.