Pyongyang responded with threats to launch preemptive military strikes against the USA, including targeting the Pacific island territory of Guam.
In another statement citing a different military spokesman, North Korea also accused the United States of devising a "preventive war" and said any plans to execute this would be met with an "all-out war wiping out all the strongholds of enemies, including the U.S. mainland".
In more tranquil terms, Tillerson sought to explain the thinking behind Trump's warning to Pyongyang that it would be "met with fire and fury like the world has never seen" if it made more threats to the United States. We are not just a military installation.
The decline was broad, with all the 11 major S&P indexes lower.
Gold hit its highest level in nearly two months after Trump added to the geopolitical anxiety by boasting of the strength of the United States nuclear arsenal.
After a dip of as much as 0.52 percent earlier in the day, investors appeared to take some comfort in Tillerson's comments, said Richard Steinberg, managing director at HighTower Advisors in NY.
XAutoplay: On | Off Gold climbed as traders exited stocks and fled to more secure ground, as the back-and-forth saber-rattling between the US and North Korea escalated.
Earlier, Pyongyang said it was ready to give Washington a "severe lesson" with its strategic nuclear force in response to any us military action. The mood then hit Europe, where Frankfurt's DAX dropped 1.1% and the CAC-40 in Paris fell 1.4%.
"We are encouraged by our first-quarter performance, although we continue to believe that fiscal 2018 will be a transition year for our company, as we focus on laying the foundation for the future by executing on our strategic plan", he said.
Copper rose 1.05 percent to $6,481.50 a tonne.
Nevsun Resources offset some of the material group's gains, plunging 18.4% to $2.685 after the company reported disappointing quarterly results.
Against the tense backdrop, the South Korean won extended its losses on Thursday and touched its lowest level against the dollar in about a month. The 30-year Treasury bond rose 27/32 in price to yield 2.8252 per cent, from 2.867 per cent late on Tuesday. Gold was last up 1.4 percent, its highest point since mid-June, while the Swiss franc and the Japanese yen rose. The US currency found only limited support from a speech by New York Fed President William Dudley, who reiterated the Fed's expectations that inflation will rise to 2% over the medium term.
Gold futures for December delivery climbed 1.3 per cent to settle at $1,279.30 (U.S.) an ounce on the Comex in NY.
Oil prices settled lower after a volatile session on increasing exports from key OPEC producers and news of lower crude shipments from Saudi Arabia.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 109.96 yen from 110.48 yen late Tuesday.
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