The sell-off is likely to extend into the European session, with financial spread-better CMC Markets expecting Germany's DAX and France's CAC 40 to open down about 0.7% each and Britain's FTSE 100 to start 0.55% lower.
The dollar index fell 0.32 per cent, with the euro up 0.42 per cent to US$1.1819.
"We've seen this play before, and it usually plays out where it just goes back to the status quo", Jacobsen said.
Jonathan Ernst / Reuters U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about North Korea during an opioid-related briefing at Trump's golf estate in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., August 8.
Trump's threats have escalated since reports broke at the beginning of the week that North Korea had successfully produced a nuclear warhead that could be fitted inside its missiles.
"The market has been looking for an excuse to sell off, and North Korea and the president gave the market that excuse", said David Schiegoleit, managing director at the U.S. Bank Private Client Wealth Management. When the rhetoric between the two leaders heated up, investors were scurrying for safe haven currencies, including the Yen and the Swiss Franc, which surged about 1.1% on Wednesday. Dillard's slumped 17.8 per cent after the chain booked a loss for the second quarter as increased inventory led to big discounts.
In Toronto, the composite index S&P/TSX has lost 143,08 points, or 0.9 %, to close at 15 074,25 points, the decline being nearly generalized to all sectors.
Investors instead turned to safe-haven assets such as gold, pushing it to a two-month high, and the Japanese yen rose.
But the prospect of hefty losses on Wall Street stocks was averted when USA secretary of stateRex Tillerson said there was "no imminent threat of war" and that Americans could "sleep well at night". On the Nasdaq, 1,846 issues fell and 953 advanced favouring decliners. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by less than a basis point at 2.215%. Major indexes in Asia closed lower. "Indeed, the biggest increases in the price of gold have occurred when the USA bombed Libya in 1986, in the wake of the Gulf War in 1990, and, more recently, when ISIS attacks put oil supplies in the Middle East at risk". Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged down almost 0.1 percent to 5,760.90, while South Korea's Kospi fell 0.5 percent to 2,357.84.
The dollar last changed hands at 108.96 yen, down 0.2 percent.
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Labor Department is likely to report that initial jobless claims remained unchanged at 240,000 for the week ended August 5. The market also awaited U.S. consumer inflation data on Friday that would offer more clues about the pace of the U.S.