Futures slightly lower as U.S.-North Korea tensions escalate

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(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures were slightly lower on Friday after tensions between North Korea and the United States escalated again, pushing investors to safe-haven assets.

* North Korea said on Friday it might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean after U.S. President Donald Trump vowed to destroy the reclusive country in his United Nations address.

* Trump on Thursday put more economic pressure on North Korea by ordering additional sanctions, including on its shipping and trade networks but stopped short of going after Pyongyang’s biggest trading partner, China.

* The latest spike in tensions prompted demand for gold, which rebounded from a four-week low on Friday.

* Wall Street slipped on Thursday as investors braced for a third interest rate hike this year and shares of Apple fell on worries about demand for its latest smartphone.

* Investors increased bets the central bank would raise rates again this year and were also assessing its decision to start reducing its roughly $4.2 trillion in treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities.

* Market will look for more insights into Fed’s policy from speeches by Dallas Fed president Robert Kaplan and his Kansas City counterpart Esther George later in the day.

* Oil prices were narrowly higher on Friday as the market waited to see whether major oil producers would back an extension to output cuts beyond March. [O/R]

* Apple (AAPL.O) was down about 0.58 percent in premarket trading, as the launch of iPhone 8 kicked off in a less lively mood in Asia versus previous debuts.

* Versartis (VSAR.O) tanked about 84 percent after its experimental drug for treatment of growth hormone deficiency in children failed in a late-stage study.

* United States Steel (X.N) fell about 3 percent after Cowen downgraded the stock to “underperform” from “market perform”.

Futures snapshot at 7:06 a.m. ET (1106 GMT):

* Dow e-minis 1YMc1 were down 13 points, or 0.06 percent, with 22,027 contracts changing hands.

* S&P 500 e-minis ESc1 were down 2.25 points, or 0.09 percent, with 148,256 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQc1 were down 10 points, or 0.17 percent, on volume of 34,017 contracts.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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