"The slight bias to the upside (in stocks) is a result of the CPI number".
"Traders should closely watch global equities today, with further falls and risk aversion likely pumping more safe-haven flows into precious metals", said Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at OANDA.
Keeping up his tough talk, U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's government should "get their act together" or face the consequences, and suggested that his earlier threat to unleash "fire and fury" on North Korea was too mild.
"There's not a great incentive to buy big", said Lerner of SunTrust Advisory. Randgold Resources Ltd. and Barrick Gold Corp. were among the best performers, each gaining more than 2 per cent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged down almost 0.1 percent to 5,760.90, while South Korea's Kospi fell 0.5 percent to 2,357.84.
Railroad stocks have shown a strong move to the upside on the day, driving the Dow Jones Railroads Index up by 1.3 percent.
Emerging market stocks lost 1.27 per cent. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 1.47 per cent lower.
The Nasdaq Composite Index plunged 2.1% to 6216.87 and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index dropped 1.45% to 2438.21.
Japan deploys missile defence over North Korea threat to Guam
USA bombers have flown over the Korean Peninsula several times to show American strength after Pyongyang's missile tests. The possibility of a nuclear confrontation is considered remote but global alarm has been escalating in recent days.
USA stocks saw their largest losses since May on Thursday, as tensions mounted between North Korea and the US.
But the yen added to an already-strong weekly rally of close to 1.5 percent, hitting its highest in nearly four months versus the dollar at 108.73 yen.
Japan is the world's biggest creditor country and there is an assumption investors there will repatriate funds in a crisis. The dollar index, which measures its strength against a basket of currencies, was roughly flat at 93.420.
Markets are now awaiting USA consumer price data for July, due later today. The annual rate stood at 1.8%, which was below the 1.9% observed last month and the forecast of 2.1%. The FTSE All World index was down 0.3% in London's morning trade.
Weakness in U.S. Treasury yields may also be supporting the yen, Sweeting said.
The latest U.S. economic data cemented expectations that inflation will remain subdued amid a robust labour market. United States gold futures for December delivery rose 0.2 per cent to $1,281.90 per ounce on Thursday. It was on course for an over 5 percent weekly rise, its highest such gain since July 2016. Brent crude, used to price worldwide oils, added 26 cents to $52.96.
Analysts said yields, which move inversely to prices, could fall further if the geopolitical tensions continue to rise - even if central bankers in the United States continue to talk of raising interest rates or scaling back stimulus programmes.