Wall Street opens lower as N. Korea tensions rise

This file photo taken on Aug 8, 2017 shows a trader working on the floor at the closing bell of the Dow Industrial Average at the New York Stock Exchange in New York.
This file photo taken on Aug 8, 2017 shows a trader working on the floor at the closing bell of the Dow Industrial Average at the New York Stock Exchange in New York.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Wall Street opened lower on Tuesday as investors remained cautious after North Korea conducted its most powerful nuclear test over the weekend.

North Korea on Sunday conducted its sixth nuclear test, which it said was of an advanced hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile, marking a dramatic escalation of the regime's stand-off with the United States and its allies.

The United States blamed North Korea's trading partners on Monday of aiding its nuclear ambitions and the White House declared that "all options to address the North Korean threat are on the table."

"We see no panic in the market just as yet, it feels like it is the calm before the storm and investors are being somewhat cautious," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial in New York.

Equity markets have shown resilience to geopolitical events surrounding North Korea of late, with initial losses erased relatively quickly. Safe-haven gold pulled back from a one-year high in its first drop in four days.

At 9:39 a.m. ET (9:39 p.m. Singapore time), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 99.19 points, or 0.45 per cent, at 21,888.37 and the S&P 500 was down 8.52 points, or 0.34 per cent, at 2,468.03. The Nasdaq Composite was down 25.29 points, or 0.39 per cent, at 6,410.04. Nine of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower, with financial index's 0.89 per cent leading the decliners.

Bank of America and Goldman Sachs were down more than 1.5 per cent. Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard, an influential policymaker, said US inflation is falling "well short" of target so the central bank should be cautious about raising interest rates any further until it is confident that prices are headed higher.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,448 to 1,137. On the Nasdaq, 1,530 issues fell and 915 advanced.