USA stocks fell sharply on Thursday, with the S&P falling 1 percent and the Nasdaq sliding 1.5 percent, hurt by investor nervousness over escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea and lackluster results from retailers Macy's and Kohl's.
But other believe North Korea has no intention of backing down.
After a dip of as much as 0.52 percent earlier in the day, Wall Street's three major indexes bounced off intraday lows.
"I$3 t does appear to this economist that there is an acute shortage of cool heads at the top of the pyramids in both the United States and North Korea right now", Carl Weinberg of High Frequency Economics wrote in a note.
The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was down 68.30 points, or 1.08 percent, at 6,284.03.
The fall comes against a background of increasing tension between North Korea and the US, with the former making a threat to land a missile just short of the US Pacific territory of Guam.
The Canadian dollar was trading at an average price of 78.67 cents USA, down 0.04 of a U.S. cent.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index lost 1.19%.
However, shares of Dean Foods tumbled, trading 20.1 percent weaker at US$11.96 as of 2.24pm in NY, after the U.S. dairy processor posted quarterly results that fell short of expectations and downgraded its full-year forecast amid "a challenging and rapidly evolving retail environment". European markets were also struggling amid the simmering political stand-off, with the Cac 40 in France dropping 1.4% and Germany's Dax tumbling by 1.1%. Two supersonic bombers from Guam also flew over the Korean Peninsula last month.
In the cash market, the blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 22085.34, down 33.08 or -0.15%.
U.S. gold futures for December delivery rose 0.2 percent to $1,281.20 per ounce.
The yen held steady against the dollar, taking a breather after having risen on Wednesday to its highest level in almost eight weeks.
The market was also waiting for data that would offer clues about the extent to which the strengthening U.S. labour market is spilling over into inflation.
While North Korea is likely to remain in focus, a report on consumer price inflation may also attract attention on Friday, with consumer prices expected to rise by 0.2 percent in July.
Charter Communications rose 2.9 per cent on news Altice is exploring a bid for the cable giant.
Oil prices settled lower after a volatile session on increasing exports from key OPEC producers and news of lower crude shipments from Saudi Arabia.