Financial markets on Wall Street have fallen following rising tensions between South and North Korea, with investors fleeing to so-called 'safe haven' assets such as the US dollar, Swiss franc and gold.
North Korea fired scores of artillery shells at a South Korean island, killing two soldiers and setting houses ablaze, prompting South Korea to return fire.[image:566:third:right]
The incident came on top of Europe's debt woes.
The Dow Jones Index was down 141 points to 11,037 on Tuesday. The Nasdaq Composite was down 38 points to 2494.
Earlier, in Europe: the FTSE in London was down 1.8%, the Dax in Frankfurt was down 1.7% and the CAC-40 in Paris was down 2.5%.
The Australian 200 Index was down 54 points at 4589.
The NZX 50 fell 38 points to close at 3259 on turnover of $79 million.
At 8.25am on Wednesday, the New Zealand dollar was buying 76.24 US cents, 78.27 Australian cents, 48.18 pence, 63.08 yen and 0.5690 euro. The Trade Weighted Index was at 68.70.
Brent crude oil was trading at $US82.98 per barrel and gold was trading at $US1374.35 per ounce.