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Asian Market Update – Thursday: Asian equities mixed on positive economic data from the US, geopolitical tensions

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yen, dollar, euro

The Big Question: What matters more for Asian investors: Events in the region or in the US?

Major equity markets in the Asia Pacific were in a mixed mode on Thursday, with stock indexes in Japan and Australia making gains on better-than-expected economic data out of the US, while stocks in China and South Korea seeing losses over geopolitical tensions, despite positive manufacturing data in China.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 edged up 0.7 percent or 136.22 points to 19,642.76 before midday.

Down under, the ASX 200 added 0.77 percent or 43.9 points to 5,713.6.

The gain in Japan and Australia, which closely track their counterparts in the US, followed gains on Wall Street, where the S&P 500 gained 0.46 percent and the Dow rose 0.12 percent.

The US reported 3 percent economic growth, beating the expected pace of 2.7 percent. Also, the private sector added 237,000 jobs, well above the expected 185,000 jobs.

However, other factors weighed on markets in South Korea and Greater China.

In South Korea, the KOSPI fell 0.35 percent to 2,364.08 before midday. Tensions in the Korean Peninsula showed sign of escalation again on Wednesday, after US President Donald Trump suggested that the US won’t pursue diplomatic talks with North Korea.

In his first response to the latest missile test by North Korea via Twitter, Trump said: “The US has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years. Talking is not the answer!”

Investors could see that as a sign of the US not actively pursuing a diplomatic solution, and tensions might rise if the US were to pursue tougher actions; however, analysts also suggest investors are quick to adopt to the tension in the Peninsula because it’s been a persistent situation for years.

Meanwhile, in Greater China, despite better-than-expected performance in the country’s manufacturing sector, stocks continued lower. The Shanghai Composite Index was 0.61 percent lower before midday to 3,342.95.

China’s official manufacturing PMI, a closely watched gauge of manufacturing activity, rose 0.3 percentage point in August to 51.7 percent, while non-manufacturing (services) PMI was down 1.1 percentage points to 53.4 percent. Both remained above the 50-point threshold, indicating expansion in activities.

The response from the equity markets to the positive data highlighted once again the question: Is China’s stock market out of touch with economic fundamentals?

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng also lost 0.64 percent to 27,914.21. Share prices of major mainland banks likely weighed on the benchmark. Despite positive earnings reports, major bank shares in Hong Kong fell, with ICBC, the world’s largest bank by total assets, seeing its shares down as much as 3.32 percent, and Bank of China’s shares down 1.21 percent.

Market-sensitive news this week to watch: More economic data from the US, Japan; NAFTA talks; UK’s Brexit talks with the EU; talks of tax reform in the US.

Main Market Movers – Mid-day Asian Trading Session

Indexes Value at Midday Daily Change
Japan-Nikkei Stock Average 225 19,642.76 0.7%
China-Shanghai Composite Index 3,342.95 -0.61%
Australia-ASX 200 5,713.60 0.77%
Hong Kong-Hang Seng 27,914.21 -0.64%
South Korea- KOSPI 2,364.08 -0.35%

Cryptocurrencies

The bitcoin price was up overnight during the Asian trading session, trading between $4,568 and $4,623.

Ethereum was up 0.58 percent, changing hands at $385 after taking a slight drop earlier to $380.

The rally came as more institutions are joining the blockchain revolution. The latest news say HSBC and Barclay are joining a settlement coin using blockchain.

Currencies

The Japanese yen lost 0.29 percent against the US dollar to 110.54 per dollar, after the dollar turned up following better economic data in the US and talks of tax reform.

The economic data also lifted the dollar against the Chinese yuan. The yuan lost 0.07 percent against the greenback, trading at 6.5962 per dollar.

The Australian dollar, which is often sensitive to Chinese economic data, firmed 0.06 percent against the US dollar. The Australian dollar was trading 0.7904 per dollar.

Commodities

WTI Oil was down 0.07 percent at $45.91 per barrel.

Brent Crude gained 0.26 percent to $50.74 per barrel.

Gold was down 0.36 percent to $1,303 an ounce.

Business News across Asia

In China, The BRICS summit kicks off on Thursday in Xiamen, South China’s Fujian Province. BRICS stands for five emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The bloc holds a meeting each year to talk about intra-cooperation as well as raising their influence in the global economic system. This year Egypt, Kenya and Mexico are also invited to participate at the summit.

Take away: A lot to watch for during the Summit, including their voice in a turbulent global economic system, China-India talks following a lengthy border military stand-off that just ended before the Summit, deals on infrastructure, building a common customs network, etc.

In Japan, UK Prime Minister Theresa May is in Japan to hold talks with her Japanese counterpart Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about a potential bilateral trade agreement following the UK’s exit from the EU. No details of substance have emerged from the talks, which is being held almost simultaneously with divorce talks between British and EU officials in Brussels.

Take Away: May’s intention to expedite talks with Japan is quite telling, coming at a time when British and EU officials are making slow progress in what could be very consequential negotiations. If things are good with Japan, that could improve the UK’s position in the EU talks.

Featured image from Pixabay.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.3 stars on average, based on 37 rated postsFredrik 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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Altcoins

Your Guide to Stablecoins 2019

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Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies with a value pegged to a currency or to exchange traded commodities. Many projects today are researching and developing such technology. Issuers distribute stablecoins to customers in exchange for fiat currency such as USD at a 1:1 fixed exchange rate. USD is a desirable medium of exchange and globally accepted unit of account, making it a good choice for a stablecoin. Stablecoins most often take the following shapes.

  • Fiat-collateralized: Reserves in a national currency collateralize the creation and issuance of such tokens. The goal is price stability by pegging a token’s value to a reserved fiat value.
  • Crypto-collateralized: Cryptocurrencies backing cryptocurrencies. That might sound far fetched or futuristic, but it is possible in the present day. Forget the Gold Standard. Now you can hold a cryptocurrency backed by a basket of cryptocurrencies.
  • Seigniorage: These tokens are not-collateralized. Software maintains the price stability.
  • Hybrid: When you blend the three basic approaches above – or some assortment thereof – you get a hybrid stablecoin.

Let’s go deeper.

Fiat-backed

Fully-backed by fiat money at a 1:1 ratio, you might receive $1 of fiat-backed stablecoins in exchange for $1 of fiat money. Custodians (third-parties) typically manage the fiat in such an arrangement. In order to maintain a stable price, fiat-backed tokens may be issued or destroyed as needed. When holders redeem cash with tokens, for instance, the company might wire money to a bank account, then destroy or otherwise remove the tokens from circulation so as to maintain the fiat currency peg.

Tether (USDT)

Tether’s daily volume on January 18 was $189,134,405. Traders use tether as a way to hedge and to convert holdings into the equivalent USD value without having to cash-out. Detractors argue that Tether lacks transparency when it comes to reserves, though the company claims all issued USDT tokens are backed on a one-to-one basis. The CEO of Bitfinex is also the CEO for Tether Limited, which issues Tether.

TrueUSD (TUSD)

TrueUSD claims to be more transparent than Tether, while still enabling TUSD customers to exchange USD through an escrow account over which the TUSD team claims to have no control. The company uses smart contracts to ensure the 1:1 parity between real USD reserves in the escrow accounts and the TUSD tokens issued.

Gemini

Gemini took a different approach than most stablecoins, receiving permission from the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) before creating its USD-pegged stablecoin. Designed to provide traders and institutions with a “regulated” version of tether (USDT), Gemini claims their stablecoin establishes trust through cryptographic proof and regulatory oversight.

Gemini’s ERC20 stablecoin includes an “upgrade feature, an offline approval mechanism for high-risk actions, and a hybrid online-offline approval mechanism for high-risk actions and token issuance that provides the desired level of security and flexibility.”

Gemini links licensed financial institutions and examiners. They form a network of trust that backs the Gemini dollar. This regulated stablecoin is to serve as a medium of exchange and unit of account for centralized and decentralized applications. Gemini has pledged to create a network of trusted and licensed financial institutions and examiners. These implementations combined form the Gemini dollar, a regulated stablecoin that can serve as a viable medium of exchange and unit of account for centralized and decentralized applications.

Gemini’s proof-of-solvency is also a unique selling point requires a trusted third party. It plans to have the audit committee of the board of directors of Gemini engage an independent registered public accounting firm to attest to the underlying US dollar balance.

Paxos Standard

Paxos Standard is built upon the Ethereum blockchain as an ERC-20 token. Rather than issuing new money to maintain price stability, as past coins have attempted, Paxos Standard provides a more stable representation of existing money with accepted and trusted value. The company posits early use cases for the technology as a payment means; hedge against volatility; contracts for more complicated transactions, and more. Longer term use cases include asset mobility and settlement and ecosystem development.
Centre

CENTRE is creating a network scheme to manage the creation, redemption and mechanisms enabling issuing members to mint and burn/redeem asset-backed fiat tokens, ensuring price stability. CENTRE’s fiat-collateralized approach entails a unit of tokenized fiat currency being backed by one unit of reserved fiat. According to CENTRE, Circle will become a “licensed member of the CENTRE network”, but an independent entity will govern and develop CENTRE protocols separate from Circle.
Commodity-Backed

Commodity-backed stablecoins are pegged to a specific value of, say, gold. One token, for instance, might represent one gram of gold. Physical gold is often claimed to be stored in a trusted third party vault. BitShares was one of the first projects to introduce a commodity-backed stablecoin. Backed by real assets and redeemable at the conversion rate of the real asset, commodity-backed stablecoins try to maintain the stable value of gold, while being easily transferred.

Digix Gold Tokens (DGX)

Digix has two tokens. Digix Gold Tokens (DGX) and DigixDAO Tokens (DGD). DGD tokens are used for DigixDAO’s governance model. DGX tokens are used as collateral and a trading pair by other crypto projects like MakerDAO, Kryptono Exchange, Kyber Network, WeTrust, Monolith, and others.

A Digix customer might buy gold through the Digix platform. The vendor then supplies gold and a custodian stores the customer’s gold. Relevant details (vendor, custodian, customer, etc.) are stored on a digital card, and sent to smart contracts so new, gold-backed coins can be minted.

DGX, created by DigixGlobal, is an ERC-20 token backed by physical gold. Fully-audited and stored in a vault in Singapore, the Safe House, each token’s value is fully redeemable and pegged to price of gold. Digix’s Proof-of-Provenance algorithm ensures that each gold bar’s custodianship status is tracked on the Ethereum blockchain. Reserves are audited each quarter.

Cryptocurrency-Backed Stablecoin

Backed by other cryptocurrencies, crypto-collateralized cryptocoins can be less stable than fiat and commodity-backed stablecoins because the underlying asset is less stable. Cryptocurrency-backed stablecoins might sometimes be over-collateralized to account for the volatility. While a US-backed stablecoin might be pegged 1:1, an Ethereum-backed stablecoin might be worth 2:1. (US $2 worth of ethereum for US$1 worth of stablecoin).  Still, cryptocurrency backed stablecoins are more volatile than stablecoins backed by other assets like commodities and fiat money.

Usually backed by a basket of cryptocurrencies instead of a lone currency, some such stablecoins require users to stake and lock cryptocurrency via a smart contract to create a fixed ratio of stablecoins. Considered a more decentralized alternative to fiat and commodity-backed stablecoin, cryptocurrency backed stablecoins offer quick liquidation from one cryptocurrency to another.

MakerDAO (DAI)

Maker, a smart contract platform based on the Ethereum platform, stabilizes the value of Dai, a collateral-backed cryptocurrency, through a dynamic system of Collateralized Debt Positions (CDPs), autonomous feedback mechanisms, and appropriately incentivized external actors.

Collateralized debt position are smart contracts on the Maker system. CDPs keep track of assets deposited by users so that users can generate Dai. The value of an active CDPs collateral is higher than the value of the debt. Ether is used as collateral for new coins, and must be sent to a CDP, which locks the staked ETH so new DAIs are minted. Dai is designed to be sent to others, used as payments for goods and services and held as savings. MakerDAO also issues MKR token.

Seigniorage-Style Stablecoin

Seigniorage-Style stablecoins are uncollateralized and stabilized by algorithms. Algorithms might maintain the value and stability of a coin by controlling the supply of the uncollateralized stablecoin, shrinking and growing it based on certain indicators.

Seignoriage-style coins’ algorithmically governed approach to expanding and contracting a stablecoin’s money supply. New stablecoins are minted to maintain stable prices, when, say, demand increases or decreases.

Conclusion

Technologists claim that stability offered in stablecoins would be a boon to cryptocurrency by minimizing fluctuations of value. A stablecoin theoretically represents a stable means of payment and trade, making it appealing for daily use, and perhaps more palatable for the general public. Yet, stablecoin technology is still nascent, and questions such as how to manage supply and demand in such a way as to create stable value have yet to be fully answered and understood. Of the coins listed here, Digix, Gemini, MakerDAO and Paxos represent under-publicized products on which to keep an eye.

Image: Artem Beli

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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5 stars on average, based on 1 rated postsJustin O'Connell is the founder of financial technology focused CryptographicAsset.com. Justin organized the launch of the largest Bitcoin ATM hardware and software provider in the world at the historical Hotel del Coronado in southern California. His works appear in the U.S.'s third largest weekly, the San Diego Reader, VICE and elsewhere.




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Market Overview

Stocks Power Ahead as China Pledges to Eliminate U.S. Trade Deficit; Cryptocurrencies Stabilize

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U.S. stocks surged on Friday, extending their winning streak to four days after China proposed new measures to help Washington eliminate its burgeoning trade deficit. Cryptocurrencies hovered near break-even for the week, as a lack of trading catalysts kept investors non-committal.

Stocks Extend Rally

All of Wall Street’s major indexes booked solid gains to close at their highest in well over a month. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 336.25 points, or 1.4%, to 24,706.35. The index was led by gains Hone Depot Inc. (HD), Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) and UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH).

The much broader S&P 500 Index rose 1.3% to 2,670.71. Ten of 11 primary sectors finished higher, led by energy, industrials and materials stocks.

The technology-focused Nasdaq Composite Index rose 1% to finish at 7,157.23.
Stocks have gained more than 6% since the year began, as traders looked to offset some of last quarter’s brutal declines.

End of the Trade War?

China is serious about ending the trade war with the United States. Sources close to the negotiations confirmed on Friday that Beijing has offered the United States a six-year increase in U.S. imports valued at more than $1 trillion. This would allow Washington to fully eliminate its annual trade deficit with China, currently valued at $323 billion, by 2024. CCN has more: Bye Bye Trade War? China Plans $1 Trillion Buying Spree to Reduce US Trade Deficit.

As Hacked reported Thursday, U.S. lawmakers are strongly considering lifting tariffs on Chinese imports in a renewed push to broker a new trade deal with Beijing. The Trump administration had previously pledged to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods before Presidents Trump and Xi Jinping agreed to a temporary truce in December. The truce allowed both sides to negotiate a new trade deal over the next 90 days.

Crypto Prices Subdued

Crypto prices maintained their stability on Friday, as contradictory signals kept market activity to a minimum. This comes despite a noticeable pickup in trade volume over the past seven days.

The cryptocurrency market capitalization hovered below $122 billion, where it was virtually unchanged compared to seven days ago. The market bottomed near $116 billion last Sunday before quickly rebounding near $125 billion on Monday. Throughout the week, trade volumes have hovered in the $16-17 billion range. As Hacked recently reported, bitcoin has seen a sharp rise in circulation over the past 30 days.

Read Hacked.com’s Weekly Recap: Crypto Volatility Declines as Bitcoin Shows Renewed Stability; U.S.-China Trade War Could Soon End.

By late afternoon, most major assets were trading lower over the 24-hour cycle. Bitcoin was trading at $3,650, where it was tracking a 24-hour loss of 0.5%. XRP and Ethereum each fell more than 1.5%. Bitcoin cash and EOS booked losses of more than 2% each.

Disclaimer: The author owns Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.7 stars on average, based on 741 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he leads content development for one of the world's foremost cryptocurrency resources. Over the past eight years Sam has authored more than 10,000 articles and over 40 whitepapers in the fields of labor market economics, emerging technologies, cryptocurrency and traditional finance. Sam's work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Contact: sam@hacked.com Twitter: @hsbourgi




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Analysis

3 Things You Need to Know About the Market Today: Trade Rally, Pound Pullback, Tesla Worries

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1, Trade Optimism Drives Rally in Stocks, Oil

Shanghai Composite, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

The US government is mulling to lift or ease some of the trade tariffs on Chinese goods, at least according to the reports that surfaced yesterday, and although the rumors were promptly denied by the Treasury, risk assets have been pushing higher ever since. Global stocks are trading at 1-month highs, with understandably, the major US indices and China leading the way higher. We expect further gestures by the two sides in the coming weeks, as the talks progress, but a final agreement could still be months away.

The most affected commodities, such as copper and oil are also up today, and but as we noted this weekend, the oversold rally in risk assets is stretched now. Also, even as the weaker global benchmarks, such as the Shanghai Composite have joined the party, the clear economic slowdown and the bearish technicals make the current environment hostile for bulls

2, Pound Retreats After Hitting 2-Month High Above 1.30

GBP/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Besides the Trade War saga, the likely delay of the Brexit deadline has been making waves all week long, and Pound bulls seem to like the idea of a possible “soft” deal with the European Union. The currency hit its highest level against the Dollar since mid-November, topping the 1.30 level, while British stocks are also trading near their 2019 highs.

Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to include the opposition parties following Wednesday’s no-confidence vote, but for now, even starting the talks is challenging, even though the government labeled the first talks “constructive”. In any case, with the chances of a no-deal Brexit being low right now, the Pound could enjoy further gains, especially as long as the global risk rally lasts.

3, Tesla Disappoints With Guidance, Cuts Workforce by 7%

Tesla (TSLA), 4-Hour Chart Analysis

While it held up very well during the recent tumroil in the stock market, Elon Musk’s crown jewel, Tesla (TSLA) has been down by as much as 8% today in pre-market trading after warning investors that the electric car maker will likely turn a smaller-than-expected profit in the coming quarter. Tesla is struggling to ramp up the production of the Model 3, while also facing difficulties to hit its cost goal with regards to its “mass” product.

With the traditional car makers slowly but surely closing in on the company, and given the looming cash flow issues, the coming quarters will crucial for the Musk. The company just avoided bankruptcy in its early days, and some bears think that the fierce competition and the production issues could lead to a crisis yet again. The company’s workforce skyrocketed in recent years, and today CEO Musk also announced that it will lay off 7%, approximately 3000 workers, to cut costs after the expansion. He stated that,

“We unfortunately have no choice but to reduce full-time employee headcount by approximately 7%, we grew by 30% last year, which is more than we can support, and retain only the most critical temps and contractors (…)”

While today, earnings reports will be few and far between, Netflix (NFLX) will also be in focus after reporting yesterday in after-hours trading, and for now, the streaming giant is also trading lower despite the broad overnight rally in stocks.

Featured image from Shutterstock

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.7 stars on average, based on 443 rated postsTrader and financial analyst, with 10 years of experience in the field. An expert in technical analysis and risk management, but also an avid practitioner of value investment and passive strategies, with a passion towards anything that is connected to the market.




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