"The data confirms the Fed will have a wait-and-see attitude", said King Lip, chief investment officer at Baker Avenue Asset Management in San Francisco.
Trump ratcheted up his rhetoric against North Korea and its leader on Thursday, warning Pyongyang against attacking Guam or U.S. allies after it disclosed plans to fire missiles over Japan to land near the U.S. Pacific territory.
In other news, OPEC said its oil output rose by 173,000 barrels per day (bpd) in July to 32.87 million bpd, led by the exempt producers plus top exporter Saudi Arabia, citing figures it collects from secondary sources.
Asian equities were back in the red, snuffing out a nascent recovery as spiralling tensions over North Korea lingered for a second day.
The Nasdaq Composite was up 34.61 points, or 0.56 percent, at 6,251.48. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was off 0.3 percent. "Indeed, the biggest increases in the price of gold have occurred when the U.S. bombed Libya in 1986, in the wake of the Gulf War in 1990, and, more recently, when ISIS attacks put oil supplies in the Middle East at risk".
The U.S. blue-chip index is down 1.1% this week and the S&P 500 is 1.6% lower, facing its worst weekly performance since November.
The CBOE Volatility Index - a measure of investors' expectations for swings in the S&P 500 over the next 30 days - surged 44% to 16.04 Thursday - its highest level since U.S. Election Day.
'Stock markets in Europe are still under pressure because of the heightened tensions surrounding North Korea, ' said David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK.
The yen tends to benefit during times of geopolitical or financial stress as Japan is the world's biggest creditor nation and there is an assumption investors there will repatriate funds should a crisis eventuate. Germany's DAX fell 0.9 percent, while the CAC 40 in France lost 0.5 percent. Major European markets sank in early trade Thursday after the Dow recorded its second straight negative close Wednesday, although the dollar firmed against the pound and euro ahead of United States inflation data Friday.
The dollar edged up about 0.1 per cent to 110.16 yen, up from Wednesday's low of 109.56 yen, which was the dollar's lowest level since June 15.
On the currency markets, the pound was down to a three-week low against the U.S. dollar but mainly due to earlier disappointing output and trade data.
Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 2.25 percent from 2.26 percent late Tuesday.
After touching a more than two-month high at US$1,291.86, spot gold last added 0.2 per cent to US$1,288.81 an ounce.
It was 0.2 percent lower at 1.1310 francs, compared with highs of 1.1537 francs hit a week ago. Oil prices were headed higher.
OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 24 cents to $48.37 per barrel on the on the New York Mercantile Exchange while Brent crude, used to price global oils, declined 20 cents to $51.70 per barrel in London.