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Stocks on edge as Trump warns North Korea again; gold, volatility rise

Traders braced for a fourth-straight day of losses Friday, as rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea add more jitters to market sentiment worldwide.

Entering Friday's session, the Dow was on track to post its worst weekly performance since March 24, while the S&P 500 stared at its biggest weekly loss since the week before the U.S. election.

Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 20 points, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures declined 4 points and 16.50 points, respectively.

The Dow has fallen more than 275 points during the past three days, with Thursday's sell-off losing 204 points.

The S&P and the Dow are down more than 1 percent this week.

Futures for major indexes were little changed paring earlier losses after weaker-than-expected inflation data raised hopes that the Federal Reserve would show restraint in raising interest rates.

The Labor Department said on Friday the Consumer Price Index edged up 0.1 percent last month, versus expectations of 0.2 percent.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on January 6, 2016 in New York City.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on January 6, 2016 in New York City.

In the latest developments between the two countries' war of words, President Donald Trump on Friday tweeted another stark warning to North Korea.

The tweet came a day after Trump said his previous warning to North Korea that it would face "fire and fury" may not have been "tough enough."

"Unprecedented and tough comments supplied by Donald Trump against North Korea along with a response filled with bravado from Pyongyang provided the impetus for the latest 'misstep' from equities," Jeremy Klein, chief market strategist at FBN Securities, said in a note.

"While many analysts would argue that Kim Jong-un is far too unorthodox and ruthless to predict his decision making accurately, I find it hard to believe that he will go beyond the point of no return which would threaten his and his country's survival. Hence, the current bout of skittishness should soon dissipate as the sparring subsides."

The CBOE volatility index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, soared more than 40 percent in Thursday trade. It exceed 16.9 in premarket trade Friday morning, its highest level since the presidential election.

Traditional safe havens have also been surging in the heated geopolitical atmosphere, with gold futures rising 0.19 percent Friday and more than 2 percent this week. The Swiss franc has advanced 1.08 percent against the U.S. dollar.

Investors also parsed a slew of quarterly earnings, including Snap's results. The company reported weaker-than-expected results across the board, sending the stock down more than 15 percent in the premarket.

Meanwhile, looking to the Federal Reserve, Dallas Fed President Rob Kaplan is set to be at the University of Texas at Arlington's Accounting CPE event, while Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari is expected to be present at the Independent Community Bankers of Minnesota Annual Convention, in Bloomington.

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—CNBC's Jacob Pramuk contributed to this report.

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