Asian Market Update – Friday: Cryptocurrencies retreat; Asian stocks muted

Morning after

The Big Question: Is the party over for bitcoin?

Cryptocurrencies seem to have taken a pause on Friday after a historic bull run that pushed prices of the main coins through the roof. As of midday in Asia on Friday, prices of bitcoin, ethereum and litecoin were all in red, though only slightly, and well below earlier record highs.

Bitcoin lost 2.10 percent to about $9,695 at midday, well below the recent record high of about $11,264 reached late last night. Bitcoin has been trading down sharply since early this morning, falling to as low as $9,422, before regaining some ground.

Ethereum trimmed off 0.69 percent to $431 by midday. The coin dropped sharply overnight, falling from a record high of $518 on Wednesday to as low as $412 this morning. Ethereum now appears to have found some support above the $430 level.

Litecoin was down 0.79 percent to $85.14 at midday in Asian trading. The coin has been in a steep downtrend since Wednesday night, when it reached a record high of $103. However, it has later erased much of the gain, trading down more than $20 at one point.

Main Market Movers – Mid-day Asian Trading Session

Indexes Value at Midday Daily Change
Japan- Nikkei 225 22,724 0.00%
China-Shanghai Composite Index 3,305 -0.35%
Hong Kong –Hang Seng 29,122 -0.19%
South Korea-KOSPI 2,481 0.20%
Australia-ASX 200 5,982 0.21%
S&P 500 E-Mini Futures 2,641 -0.04%

Major Asian equity markets were muted, with only fractional gains or losses in most markets, as the US tax overhaul returns to focus.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 Index erased earlier gains of nearly 1 percent and was flat at 22,724 before midday in Asia.

On the Chinese mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.35 percent to 3,305 after it opened 0.19 percent lower. Investors have been cautious lately, with more bad news coming in today about a closely-watched gauge of factory activity coming in short of expectations.

The Caixin/Markit manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) stood at 50.8 in November, down from 51 in the previous month. The Caixin/Markit index tracks medium and small firms, while the official index tracks large state-owned firms. The official PMI was more positive at 51.8, but the official numbers out of China are often questioned by skeptical market participants.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index lost 0.19 percent to around 29,122.

In South Korea, the Kospi edged up 0.2 percent to around 2,481 shortly after midday.

Down under, the ASX 200 picked up 0.21 percent to 5,982 at midday.

The S&P 500 E-Mini Futures was down 0.04 percent to 2,641 at midday.

Asian investors are now watching the developments in efforts to reform the US tax code. The latest was that Republican lawmakers were forced to delay a vote on the tax reform plan in the Senate after a hiccup on Thursday that prompted lawmakers to make changes to the plan last minute. Initial signs show that Republican lawmakers might have enough votes to pass the plan.

Currencies

The Japanese yen was flat against the US dollar at midday Friday, changing hands at 112.53 per dollar.

The Chinese yuan was down 0.08 percent against the US dollar at 6.6149 per dollar.

The Australian dollar lost 0.05 percent on the dollar, changing hands at 1.3223 per dollar at midday.

Commodities

WTI Oil was up 0.26 percent to $57.55 per barrel.

Brent Crude gained 0.27 percent to $62.88 per barrel.

Gold was up 0.03 percent to $1,275 an ounce.

News across Asia

In China, officials and experts are pushing back a couple of measures from the US against China in trade, saying that the US is taking protectionist actions. Those actions include a first-in-decades anti-dumping and countervailing duty probe into Chinese aluminum sheets and declining to view China as a market economy.

Take away: Though a trade war between the two countries is unlikely, tensions remain high for the most important bilateral relationship in the world.

In Japan, an official date has been set for the planned abdication of Japanese Emperor Akihito: April 30, 2019. Akihito had previously agreed to step down – the first to do so in centuries – but details remained elusive.

Take away: Akihito rarely appear in public and doesnt have any real power in Japan, and his departure would hardly have any impact on Japan. 

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.