North Korea may be a little country, but it can churn up big trouble. Weekly Commentary for August 14, 2017
The possibility that verbal hostilities between the United States and North Korea could trigger geopolitical conflict had investors on the run last week. In the United States, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell by 1.4 percent, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1.1 percent, and the NASDAQ Composite finished 1.5 percent lower.
Financial Times explained:
“The sell-off came as U.S. President Donald Trump escalated the war of words against the North Korean regime’s accelerated [program] of nuclear testing. Mr. Trump tweeted on Friday, “military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely.”
While major U.S. indices headed south, the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) – also known as Wall Street’s fear gauge – headed north. The VIX, which has been flirting with historic lows for much of the year, rose 44 percent in a single day, reported CNBC.
Stock markets in Europe and Asia were also affected by the saber rattling. National indices across Europe suffered weekly losses of 2.2 percent (Sweden) to 3.5 percent (Spain), according to Barron’s. In the Asia-Pacific region, India’s Sensex 30 lost 3.4 percent and South Korea’s Kospi was down 3.2 percent for the week.
Geopolitical concerns overshadowed some important economic news in the United States. Inflation, as measured by the U.S. Consumer Price Index, rose very little in July. In fact, consumer prices have been soft for five straight months, reported MarketWatch. Persistently low inflation could affect the Federal Reserve’s plan to raise interest rates this year. The Fed’s goal is 2 percent inflation.
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