In Toronto, the composite index S&P/TSX has lost 143,08 points, or 0.9 %, to close at 15 074,25 points, the decline being nearly generalized to all sectors.
Oil prices closed lower after an early rally faded.
However, an Associated Press report that the USA and North Korea have been engaged in back channel talks (https://apnews.com/686ac7c761694b28b67793a1d8297145?link=mktw) for several months even as they exchange incendiary threats helped to soothe some of the jitters.
At 9:38 a.m. ET (1338 GMT) the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 85.43 points, or 0.39 percent, at 21,963.27, the S&P 500 was down 10.31 points, or 0.42 percent at 2,463.71.
Far from trying to ease the fever, Donald Trump has stepped up its virulence on Thursday in the face of North Korea, which threatens openly the u.s. territory of Guam in the Pacific.
Trucking and software stocks are also seeing notable strength in mid-day trading, while steel stocks have moved sharply lower on the day.
The Dow slid as declines in Apple and Goldman Sachs, down 2.3% and 1.7% respectively, outweighed gains in McDonald's and Coca-Cola, up 1.4% and 0.5% respectively.
Asian equities excluding Japan slid the most in eight months on Friday as the rhetoric between USA and North Korean leaders intensified. Alliance Data Systems fell $6.28, or 2.7 percent, to $225.64. MetLife fell 75 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $47.56, while Charles Schwab slid 69 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $41.33.
Retailers were all under pressure after Macy's and Kohl's each reported lower second-quarter sales, reviving worries about consumer discretionary stocks. Dillard's slumped 15.5 percent after the chain booked a loss for the second quarter as increased inventory led to big discounts. Kohl's also declined, sliding $3.62, or 8.6 percent, to $38.31. Economists had expected prices to rise by 0.2 percent. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 2.21 percent from 2.25 percent late Wednesday.
Brent crude futures lost 0.8 percent to $51.5 per barrel on persistent oversupply worries despite a bigger-than-expected drawdown in US crude inventories. Brent crude, used to price global oils, slid 80 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $51.90. Germany's DAX fell 0.9 percent, while the CAC 40 in France lost 0.5 percent.
In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index fell 1%. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged down almost 0.1 percent.
Significant strength is also visible among computer hardware stocks, as reflected by the 1.1 percent advance by the NYSE Arca Computer Hardware Index.