Stock markets nosedived as investors continued moving into gold amid escalating political tensions between the United States and North Korea.

The S&P/TSX composite index fell 143.08 points, or 0.94%, to 15,074.25, with nearly all of its sectors moving lower.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average plunged 204.69 points to 21,844.01. The S&P 500 index dropped 35.81 points to 2,438.21, while the Nasdaq composite index slid 135.46 points to 6,216.87.

The Vix, a measure of how much volatility investors expect in stocks, jumped to its highest level since May after North Korea indicated a plan to launch ballistic missiles toward a major U.S. military hub in the Pacific.

The price of gold also surged for the second day in a row as the December bullion contract advanced US$10.80 to US$1,290.10 an ounce. The precious metal is often seen as a safe haven for investors during times of uncertainty.

The Canadian dollar was trading at an average price of 78.67 cents US, down 0.04 of a U.S. cent.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 97 cents US, or 2%, to US$48.59 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude slid 80 cents US, or 1.5%, to US$51.90.

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