Asian Market Update – Friday: Cryptocurrencies post moderate gains; Asian stocks set to end 2017 on positive note

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Quiet year-end for cryptocurrencies.

The three main cryptocurrencies were mixed Friday morning in Asia, as prices of bitcoin and ethereum posted moderate gains, and litecoin remained nearly unchanged.

At midday in Hong Kong, bitcoin was up 3.81 percent to $15,000. The virtual currency has been down for the past two days, losing about 8.5 percent. Overall, the week has been positive for bitcoin, tacking on 6 percent for the week so far, compared to a loss of about 25 percent in the previous week.

Ethereum gained 2 percent to $738 at midday. Ethereum has been down for the past two days as well, losing almost 5 percent. The virtual currency has gained about 6 percent so far this week, offsetting a 5 percent loss in the previous week.

Litecoin was nearly unchanged for the day, trading at $250 by midday on Friday. sharp fall yesterday. Litecoin’s price has largely remained under $300 for the past week. The virtual currency has lost about 7.8 percent this week, on top of a drop of 16.5 percent in the previous week.

Investors are digesting the latest regulations on bitcoin from South Korea. The South Korean government said it would impose regulations on what it considers an “irrationally overheated” bitcoin market and even shut down exchanges in the country if necessary.

Main Market Movers – Mid-day Asian Trading Session

Indexes Value at Midday Daily Change
Japan- Nikkei 225 22,846 0.27%
China-Shanghai Composite Index 3,298 0.08%
Hong Kong –Hang Seng 29,969 0.35%
South Korea-KOSPI 2,467 1.26%
Australia-ASX 200 6,072 -0.26%
S&P 500 E-Mini Futures 2,687 0.09%

Major Asian equities are on track to finish off 2017 on a positive note, as indexes in Japan, the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and South Korea were pointing slightly higher on Friday morning.

Equities in South Korea led the way on the last trading day of 2017. The Kospi was up 1.26 percent to 2,467 at midday. The index has gained about 0.82 percent so far this week.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 Index edged up 0.27 percent to 22,846 at midday. The benchmark closed 0.65 percent lower on Thursday and has so far lost about 0.3 percent this week.

On the Chinese mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.08 percent at midday on Friday to 3,298. The index has only edged up about 0.09 percent this week, significantly lower than a gain of about 0.9 percent last week.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index moved up 0.35 percent to 29,969 at midday. The HSI has had a short (closed Monday and Tuesday for holidays) but strong week, gaining 1.17 percent.

The S&P 500 E-Mini Futures was up 0.09 percent to 2,687.

Down under, the ASX 200 was down 0.26 to 6,072 at midday.

Asian stocks have been having a strong year in 2017, with several indexes having reached historic highs. Fundamentals remain solid for next year, as some of the largest economies in the region, including China and Japan, are expected to maintain stable growth in 2018. However, risks such as rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and trade disputes between the US and Asian economies, including China, South Korea and Japan, are likely to persist.

Currencies

The Japanese yen gained 0.07 percent against the US dollar at midday Friday, changing hands at 112.77 per dollar.

The Chinese yuan firmed 0.26 percent against the US dollar at 6.5153 per dollar.

The Australian dollar also lost 0.03 percent on the dollar, changing hands at 1.2824 per dollar at midday.

Commodities

WTI Oil was up 0.53 percent to $60.20 per barrel at midday on Friday.

Brent Crude gained 0.51 percent to $66.50 per barrel.

Gold edged up 0.06 percent to $1,295 an ounce.

News across Asia

In Hong Kong, bankers and brokers are eyeing a few of the massive tech IPOs from the Chinese mainland over the next a couple of years that have an estimated total market capitalization of over $500 billion, per Reuters. The new IPOs include tech firm Xiaomi, which could be valued up to $100 billion, and wealth manager Lufax, which could be valued at $18.5 billion.

Take away: Hong Kong had the worst year in 2017 for attracting new listings, but the new IPOs in the pipeline could put the city on top again for global IPOs.

In India, tensions are high in the eastern state of Assam between local Muslims and the government ahead of the publication of a citizens list that could be used to detect and deport illegal immigrants, mainly Muslims, from Bangladesh, according to Reuters. The government has mobilized about 60,000 police officers to the state in anticipation of a violent outbreak.

Take away: If the situation worsens or tensions further escalates, India could face a tricky problem with its Muslim population. Myanmar has already been accused of human rights violation in its dealing of Rohingya Muslim minority.

Featured image from Pixabay.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, ethereum and litecoin. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term trading.

Author:
Fredrik Vold is an entrepreneur, financial writer, and technical analysis enthusiast. He has been working and traveling in Asia for several years, and is currently based out of Beijing, China. He closely follows stocks, forex and cryptocurrencies, and is always looking for the next great alternative investment opportunity.

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