U.K. stocks dropped Wednesday, as assets seen as riskier were swept aside amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and North Korea.
The FTSE 100 index UKX, -0.80% was pulled down 0.6% to 7,498.17. No sector gained ground. On Tuesday, the London benchmark rose 0.1% and marked its highest close since June 2. It also briefly traded above its all-time closing high of 7,547.63, hit in late May.
Stocks across Europe SXXP, -0.74% and throughout Asia fell Wednesday after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made an explicit threat of to strike a U.S. military base in Guam.
His order, reported in state media, came hours after U.S. President Donald Trump warned Pyongyang not to “make any more threats” to the U.S, saying it would face a “fire and fury” response “like the world has never seen.” Trump’s comments came after a Washington Post report that North Korea has built a miniaturized nuclear warhead.
“The reaction in financial markets has been for safe haven plays to increase, with Treasury yields lower, whilst gold and the yen have strengthened,” said Richard Perry, market analyst at Hantec Markets, in a note.
Korea’s Kospi SEU, -1.10% stock benchmark lost 1.1% as geopolitical concerns grew, while U.S. stock futures ahead of Wednesday’s trade were modestly lower. On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.15% snapped a nine-strong streak of wins after Trump’s comments.
“Equity markets have also come under pressure, with the geopolitics bringing the run into record highs on Wall Street to an end,” Perry said. “However, geopolitically-driven moves tend not to be long lasting in markets and moves are often quickly retraced.”
In London trade, less than 10 stocks moved higher. Gold producers Randgold Resources Ltd. RRS, +2.09% and Fresnillo PLC FRES, +2.38% gained 1.9% and 2%, respectively, as gold prices GCZ7, +0.85% leapt nearly 1% to $1,273.30 an ounce.
Stock movers: In other moves, Worldpay Group PLC shares WPG, +0.47% picked up 0.2% after Vantiv Inc. VNTV, +0.32% said it will pay about £8 billion ($10.4 billion) in cash and stock to buy the U.K. payments processor, marking one of the biggest deals in the quickly consolidating sector.
Shares of G4S PLC GFS, -5.54% fell 5.8% even as the security services company posted a rise in first-half earnings and projected revenue growth will be in line with its medium-term target.
The pound GBPUSD, +0.0770% bought $1.3010, up slightly from $1.2993 late Tuesday in New York.