On the economic front, data is expected to show that US consumer prices likely rose in July after being unchanged the prior month.
Sterling touched a three-week low against the United States dollar as a mixed bag of output and trade data did little to alter investors' downbeat view of an economy struggling to meet Bank of England targets. "Risk aversion is still very much a concern for markets", said Shaun Osborne, chief currency strategist at Scotiabank in Toronto. Markets were primed for something slightly more dovish, so the NZD rose a third of a cent and the two-year swap rate rose two basis points.
"The market's dent only lasted for a week in April when tension rose between them after North Korea launched a missile".
"There's not a great incentive to buy big", said Lerner of SunTrust Advisory.
At 9:34 a.m. ET (1334 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 54.06 points, or 0.25%, at 21 898.07, the S&P 500 was up 5.23 points, or 0.21%, at 2 443.44. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 1.69 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,374.23.More news: TSX closes 143 points lower, gold rises amid US-North Korean tensions
"I think the market was looking for a reason to come off here", said Irwin Michael, portfolio manager at ABC Funds. The company reported weaker-than-expected results across the board, sending the stock down more than 15% in the pre-market.
The yen on Friday added to a strong weekly rally against the dollar of close to 1.5 percent, hitting its highest versus the greenback in nearly four months, at 108.73 yen.
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 tumbled 1.3 percent to 19,737.59 points and Seoul's Kospi fell 0.7 percent to 2,378.56.
Aside from geopolitical concerns, gold-focused investors are awaiting United States inflation data set to be released on Friday (August 8).
"If the data continues to come in on the softer side, the market might start to price the Fed staying on hold this year", said Sireen Harajli, FX strategist at Mizuho in NY.More news: White House aide describes Tillerson's statement on military matters as "nonsensical"
The euro held steady at $1.1776.
The US dollar was down 0.77 per cent against the yen at 109.21 yen.
Investors also drew some encouragement from new government data showing US inflation at the consumer level inched higher last month.
The 30-year bond was last up 4/32 in price to yield 2.7871 per cent, from 2.794 per cent late on Thursday.
MCX Gold was up 0.67 per cent, or Rs 191, at Rs 28570 per 10 gram, while MCX Silver was up 0.81 per cent, or Rs 304, at Rs 37803 per 1 kg. That "looks high enough to be consistent with a 5 percent-plus pace for real GDP growth", said Jim O'Sullivan of High Frequency Economics in a report.More news: Indore schoolboy rescued from Blue Whale's jaws!
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