NEW YORK: The U.S. dollar tumbled and debt yields pared sharp gains on Friday on a report that North Korea is preparing to test a long-range missile, reversing earlier jumps after U.S. jobs data for September raised the likelihood of an interest rate hike in December.
A Russian lawmaker just returned from a visit to Pyongyang was quoted by Russia's RIA news agency as saying that North Korea believes the missile can reach the U.S. West Coast.
"The market is getting more nervous about the prospect of some kind of a conflict," said Boris Schlossberg, managing director of FX strategy at BK Asset Management in New York.
"If they do something over the weekend, even if it's a mild test, I'm sure we're going to open up a with little bit of risk aversion on Monday."
The jobs data and North Korea report tempered equity markets that had rallied all week and sent MSCI's world stock index, along with the three major U.S. gauges on Wall Street, to four successive record-closing highs.
The Nasdaq edged up at the close, its ninth straight higher close, while the S&P 500 and Dow ended the session slightly lower.
The dollar index fell 0.17 percent.
The dollar and government debt yields had jumped earlier on strong gains in average hourly wages, which suggested the pace of inflation could quicken closer to the Federal Reserve's target of 2 percent.
U.S. employment fell in September for the first time in seven years as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma temporarily displaced workers and delayed hiring, the latest sign the storms undercut economic activity in the third quarter.
Average hourly earnings increased 12 cents, or 0.5 percent, after rising 0.2 percent in August. The gains came as nonfarm payrolls fell by 33,000 jobs last month against expectations of a 90,0000 gain.
The yield on two-year U.S. Treasury notes soared to their highest in nine years, while the dollar hit an almost three-month high against the Japanese yen and almost a two-month high against the euro.
The jump in average hourly earnings surprised investors who were aware the headline employment number would be distorted by the hurricanes, said Win Thin, head of emerging markets currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York.
"This is the missing piece in the Fed's puzzle," he said. "The dollar rally is back on track and should continue next week."
Benchmark 10-year notes
However, the report should be taken with a large grain of salt as the jump in wages is likely to show near equal weakness in October, said Russell Price, senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Services Inc in Troy, Michigan.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.72 points, or 0.01 percent, to 22,773.67. The S&P 500 lost 2.74 points, or 0.11 percent, to 2,549.33 and the Nasdaq Composite added 4.82 points, or 0.07 percent, to 6,590.18.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index lost 0.37 percent to close at 1,530.83, while MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.07 percent.
U.S. December gold futures
Oil prices fell more than 2 percent, ending Brent's longest multi-week rally in 16 months, after profit-taking and the return of oversupply concerns.