Stocks had pushed into positive territory, but dropped in the last hour of trading after President Donald Trump warned Pyongyang it will face "fire and fury" if it continues to threaten the United States. President Trump's comments about North Korea sparked geopolitical tensions and weighed on the market.
US stocks felt significant early drag, with the S&P 500 down 0.5% at the open.
The S&P 500 volatility index, a measure of investor fear, rose for a second day.
German and US government bonds, alongside gold and the Japanese and Swiss currencies, were the main beneficiaries. On the other hand, China's producer price index rose 5.5%-in line with the market's expectations. US stocks also retreated (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-stock-futures-pull-back-as-north-korea-threatens-guam-2017-08-09), although Walt Disney Inc. shares (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/disney-and-netflix-what-the-split-means-for-viewers-2017-08-08)(DIS) were also a major source of pressure on the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
Against the greenback, the Swiss franc eased about 0.1 percent to 0.9645 per dollar, having surged about 1.1 percent on Wednesday.
In the currency markets, sterling is up against the dollar at 0.15% to $1.3008 and also rose against the euro at 0.23% to €1.1075. The Nasdaq composite lost 37 points, or 0.6 percent, to 6,332.
A widely followed measure of market anxiety jumped late in the day to close at its highest in almost a month. Netflix was down 1.8 percent.
The euro fetched $1.1748, not far off from $1.1752 late Wednesday in NY. The U.S. currency was down 0.3 percent at 109.980 yen, following a retreat to 109.740, its weakest since June 15. Its shares slid $9.77, or 5.3 percent, to $174.02. The Philadelphia Oil Service Index has fallen by 1.6% and is on pace to end the session at its lowest closing level in over eight years.
Travel website operator Priceline fell 7.26 percent, weighing the most on the S&P and the Nasdaq, following a disappointing forecast.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) ended its streak of record highs today, finishing lower for a second session after dismal Disney earnings and amid building tension with North Korea. December-dated gold futures finished the day up 1.3%, or $16.70 at $1,279.30 per ounce. Also, the figures and forecasts of auto rental company Avis were disappointing and that share trimmed 10 percent.