Gold rose as much as 1.2 percent to a near two-month high, while the Swiss franc was on track to post its biggest single day rise in about two-and-a-half years.
South Korea's KOSPI .ks11 fell 1.7 percent on Friday to its lowest level since May 24, but its losses for the week are a relatively modest 3.2 percent.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index .fteu3 lost 1.01 percent and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe .miwd00000pus shed 0.12 percent.
Aug 9 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were lower on Wednesday afternoon as investors rushed to safe-haven assets after President Donald Trump's "fire and fury" warning to North Korea escalated tensions with the nuclear-armed nation. The reclusive state raised the stakes further with a detailed plan to send a salvo of missiles towards the U.S. territory of Guam.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 35 points, or 1.4 percent, to 2,438, its biggest drop since mid-May.
The Japanese yen hit an eight-week high against the USA dollar, while spot gold also reached a two-month high.
But in the US, Wall Street stocks rose as investors waded back into the market following a three-day sell-off, with high-flying technology companies like Apple and Microsoft doing especially well.
"We're still close to the all-time high so that makes people a little nervous too, so they might say now might be the time to take a little bit of money off the table".
Asked if he would consider a pre-emptive strike against North Korea to deny it the ability to launch a nuclear attack against the United States, Trump said, "We'll see what happens".
FED WATCH: As well as monitoring the geopolitical backdrop, investors are looking ahead to an appearance Thursday by Bill Dudley, president of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of NY, for signs of the Fed's outlook on the economy. If you look at the gold price after the CPI data, it tells you that the Fed is not going to be in any rush to increase the interest rate this year.
"Trump has upped the ante so the market is having to price in possible military intervention", said Jasper Lawler, head of research, at London Capital Group, in a note. Still, he said, "the Washington, D.C., bedlam and North Korea's saber-rattling is muddying the broader landscape". "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".
At 5.00 a.m. ET, U.S. crude hovered around $49.40 per barrel, while Brent stood around $52.37.
CURRENCIES: The euro was down 0.1 percent at $1.175 while the dollar fell 0.6 percent to 109.68 yen.