Markets Right Now: Stocks drift lower on Wall Street

US stocks were lower on Wednesday as investors scurried to safe-haven assets after President Donald Trump’s “fire and fury” warning to North Korea escalated tensions with the nuclear-armed nation.

The Labor Department said its producer price index for final demand edged down by 0.1 percent in July after inching up by 0.1 percent in June.

In recent trading, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 have fallen to new lows for the session.

At 10:43 a.m. ET (1443 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 52.43 points, or 0.24 percent, at 22,032.91, the S&P 500 was down 5.29 points, or 0.21 percent, at 2,469.63.

Late in the afternoon, Trump told reporters that his “fire and fury” warning to North Korea may not have been tough enough.

The remarks, following North Korea’s earlier revelation of a plan to launch a salvo of ballistic missiles toward the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, gave investors further incentive to take to the sidelines at least in stock markets.

The precious metal is often used as a safe-haven investment in times of economic uncertainty.

Data showed US producer prices unexpectedly fell in July, recording their biggest drop in almost a year, while another set showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 24 cents to $48.37 per barrel on the on the New York Mercantile Exchange while Brent crude, used to price worldwide oils, declined 20 cents to $51.70 per barrel in London. Economists had expected another 0.1 percent uptick.

The 30-year bond US30YT=RR last fell 6/32 in price to yield 2.8451 percent, from 2.837 percent late on Monday.

In the latest economic data, the consumer-price index (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-consumer-inflation-remains-soft-in-july-cpi-shows-2017-08-11) rose a seasonally adjusted 0.1% in July, its fifth straight month of softness, raising more questions about whether inflation will eventually rise to hit the Federal Reserve’s 2% annual rate target.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 index is marginally lower.

Cempra (CEMP) is leading the biotech sector lower, extending the pullback seen over the course of the previous session.

Meanwhile, the Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks looked poised for a weekly drop of almost 3%, its biggest one-week decline since February 2016.

“Trump’s response was aggressive and that’s why the (stock) market turned lower”, said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor division at O’Neil Securities. US gold futures GCcv1 gained 0.09 percent to $1,265.80 an ounce.

The major European markets also saw continued weakness on the day.

London’s FTSE 100 opened about 0.5% lower with share indices in Germany, France and Italy also in the red.