Wall Street higher but on track for deep weekly losses

S. Korean shares extend losses on heightened tensions over N. Korea

"It's incredible when you consider the headlines just how calm the equity markets are, how they've taken things in their stride", said Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist at LPL Financial in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Five of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the technology's.SPLRCT 0.80 percent rise leading the advancers.

Wall Street's downbeat start followed a slide in major stock indexes in Europe and Asia.

At 12:43 p.m. ET (1643 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 49.69 points, or 0.23 percent, at 21,893.7 and the S&P 500 .SPX was up 6.84 points, or 0.28 percent, at 2,445.05.

U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Thursday that he will respond forcefully to any North Korean attack on the U.S. or its allies.

North Korea claimed "only absolute force" can work on someone as "bereft of reason" as Trump and detailed plans to fire a salvo of missiles into waters around the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.

Energy stocks fell along with the price of crude oil. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 2.1 basis points at 2.220 percent.

On the currency markets, the pound edged 0.2% lower versus the United States dollar at 1.298, as traders responded to another tranche of lacklustre data from the United Kingdom economy. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dropped 1.2 per cent to 5,693.10. Brent crude, used to price global oils, gained 10 cents to $52.24 in London. The index has fallen to its lowest intraday level in nearly a month. The DJIA was poised for a fall of 1.1%, making for its worst week since a 1.5% drop in the one ended March 24.

While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index has slumped by 1.5 percent, the German DAX Index is down by 1.1 percent and the French CAC 40 Index is down by 0.8 percent.

Retailers were also falling Thursday. Natural gas jumped 10 cents, or 3.5 percent, to $2.99 per 1,000 cubic feet. The stock lost $2.80 to $9.04.

Barrick Gold Corp rose 2.3 per cent to C$21.74 as the price of gold, a safe-haven asset, reached its highest levels in two months.

The influential financial stocks were among the biggest drags on the index, with Royal Bank of Canada down 1.5 percent to C$92.88, and Manulife Financial Corp falling 4.7 per cent to C$24.43, its largest drop since early August past year. The Russell 2000 index gave up 1.7 per cent to 1,372.54.

Nevsun Resources Ltd offset some of the material group's gains, plunging 16.4 per cent to C$2.75 after the company reported disappointing quarterly results.

The dollar slipped to 109.26 yen from 109.85 late Wednesday. The euro slid to $1.1732 from $1.1752.

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