Wall Street opens higher as North Korea tensions ease

A street sign near the New York Stock Exchange in New York.
A street sign near the New York Stock Exchange in New York.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - US stocks opened flat on Tuesday (Aug 15) after North Korea's leader delayed a decision on firing missiles towards Guam, pointing to receding tensions between the United States and North Korea.

Pyongyang's plans to fire missiles near the US Pacific territory prompted a surge in tensions in the region last week, with President Donald Trump saying the US military was "locked and loaded" if North Korea acted unwisely.

"I think it is a bit of a follow through on North Korea that has stepped back, things are back to somewhat normal", said Mark Spellman, portfolio manager at Alpine Funds in New York. "US companies and the markets have also been benefiting from the global economic expansion. For the first time in many years, you've got a lot of economies through out the world doing better," Mr Spellman added.

At 9:42 a.m. ET (9:42 p.m. Singapore time), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 29.01 points, or 0.13 per cent, at 22,022.72, the S&P 500 was up 1.17 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 2,467.01. The Nasdaq Composite was up 1.12 points, or 0.02 per cent, at 6,341.35. Six of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower, with telecom sector's 0.70 per cent fall leading the decliners.

Data showed US retail sales recorded their biggest increase in seven months in July as consumers boosted purchases of motor vehicles as well as discretionary spending. The data helped the US dollar touch its highest level against a basket of major currencies in nearly three weeks.

Among stocks, Home Depot was down 2.6 per cent, despite the US home improvement chain reporting quarterly profit and comparable sales that topped estimates. The stock weighed the most on the Dow and the S&P 500.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,432 to 1,122. On the Nasdaq, 1,354 issues fell and 1,001.