USA markets close at record levels

       A passerby in Tokyo walks under a TV screen reporting news about North Korea's latest missile launch

Reuters A passerby in Tokyo walks under a TV screen reporting news about North Korea's latest missile launch

USA stock benchmarks carved out fresh intraday records on Friday with a big assist from rallying technology shares, helping Wall Street shake off North Korean tensions and aim to cement sharp weekly gains. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales nudging up 0.1 percent.

SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF (DIA) traded up 0.26% during trading on Friday, reaching $222.45.

US stocks have surged this year, despite turmoil in the White House, doubts about President Donald Trump's ability to push through his pro-business reforms, uncertainty over the timing of rate hikes, and lately, tensions over Pyongyang's missile tests.

Japanese authorities confirmed on Friday that North Korea launched its second missile over their country in as many months. The August decline in sales and downward revisions to the prior months make it more likely that consumption, the biggest part of the economy, will be hard-pressed to match the 3.3 percent growth pace of the prior quarter.

Wall Street is riding the second-longest bull market in history, with investors repeatedly shrugging off domestic and global turmoil as they pile into shares of technology and other companies.

The Dow Jones industrial average advanced 2.2 percent to 22,268.34.

The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 19.38 points, or 0.3%, to close at 6,448.47.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index of leading regional shares lost 0.41 percent to close at 1,495.38.

Retailers were also expected to come under a bit of pressure after retail sales figures for August fell 0.2%, thanks to a 1.6% decline in sales at vehicle dealers; strip these out and retail sales rose 0.2%.

The acceleration in inflation could keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates later this year.

Before the start of trading, the Commerce Department released a report showing retail sales dipped by 0.2 percent in August after rising by a downwardly revised 0.3 percent in July. The Federal Reserve said the weather and flooding was responsible for nearly all of the loss.

Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes fell 1/32 in price to yield 2.2023 percent. The biggest contributions to the gains were made by stocks in Boeing, 3M and Apple.

The US$226mln-valued company'sstock rose 3.5% on the news. Both were among the biggest percentage gainers on the S&P 500.

South Korea's Kospi index closed 0.4% higher, bouncing back from an earlier drop, as Asian markets overall finished mixed.

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