Asian Market Update – Thursday: Cryptocurrencies mixed, Asian stocks point higher

Shanghai morning

The Big Question: Is the recent rally ending for bitcoin?

Prices of main cryptocurrencies were mixed overnight during the Asian trading session on Thursday, as the bitcoin price pointed lower, and ethereum and litecoin saw minor gains.

At midday in Asia, bitcoin was down by 1.8 percent to about $7,300. Bitcoin saw a huge drop on Wednesday, falling from about $7,732 to about $7,225, despite surging nearly 2 percent before midday in Asia.

The sharp fall on Wednesday came on the heel of the cancellation of SegWit2x – the controversial bitcoin protocol upgrade, as reported by CCN.

The virtual currency regained a small part of the loss on Wednesday night, but it was not even close to cover the deep fall earlier in the day.

Ethereum gained a slight 0.99 percent to about $311 before midday in Asia. The price of ethereum also saw a small loss of $10 on Wednesday after surging past the $300 mark earlier in the day. But problems with the virtual currency’s wallet security still lingers after reports of funds being frozen.

Litecoin’s price saw the biggest gain on Thursday morning, adding 1.62 percent to change hands at about $63 at midday. Litecoin has been now trading above the $60 level since it showed strong performance Tuesday. The technical in litecoin are indicating potential for further upside in the price, in particular if it can break through the previous swing high from October of about $68.

Also in the news: a board member of the European Central Bank said that the bank isn’t ignoring crypotcurrencies and that  cryptocurrency trades are “speculative” and creates risks, CCN reported.

In Malaysia, the country’s securities watchdog is reportedly preparing regulations for cryptocurrency, which means the country is not going to issue any blank bans on cryptocurrencies.

Main Market Movers – Mid-day Asian Trading Session

Indexes Value at Midday Daily Change
Japan- Nikkei 225 23,368 1.98%
China-Shanghai Composite Index 3,416 0.04%
Hong Kong –Hang Seng 29,167 0.9%
South Korea – KOSPI 2,556 0.16%
Australia-ASX 200 6,041 0.42%
S&P 500 E-Mini Futures 2,539 0.1%

 

Most Asian equity indexes were trading higher on Thursday morning, led by huge gains in Tokyo that again pushed the Nikkei 225 to decade highs.

The Nikkei jumped 1.98 percent to 23,368 before midday. That’s the first time since January 1992 for the index to pass the 23,000 level, according to media reports.

In China, the Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.04 percent to about 3,416 before midday. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index added 0.9 percent to around 29,167.

Fresh data out on Thursday showed that China’s manufacturing sector remained robust in October, with the key gauge of factory activity PPI rising 6.9 percent from a year earlier, beating an expectation of 6.6 percent from Reuters.

In South Korea, the Kospi gained 0.16 percent to 2,556 before midday. Tensions are high on the Korean Peninsula after US President Donald Trump on Wednesday issued strong warnings to North Korea, urging the North not to “try us.”  The warning drew a usual response from North Korea, calling the US president “mad dog.”

Down Under, the ASX 200 moved up 0.42 percent to 6,041 before midday.

The S&P 500 E-Mini Future gained a slight 0.1 percent to 2,593.

Asian investors are now focused on Trump’s visit in Beijing, where North Korea and trade are expected to be front and center in meetings between Trump and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

Many US corporations, represented by a delegation of 29 executives, are expected to win billions of dollars’ worth of contracts with Chinese companies, including in energy (liquefied natural gas), automobile (Ford), agriculture (soy beans, beef, pork, etc), and financials (Goldman Sachs).

Apart from the business deals, analysts both in China and the US predict no major policy changes from the meetings in one of the world’s largest bilateral trades. So far the meetings seem to have eased earlier tensions between the two countries after, sending high expectations to investors across the region.

Currencies

The Japanese yen lost 0.12 percent the US dollar at midday Thursday to 114 per dollar.

The Chinese yuan lost 0.08 percent against the US dollar to trade at 6.6304 per dollar.

The Australian dollar gained 0.11 percent on the dollar, changing hands at 1.3018 per dollar at midday.

Commodities

WTI Oil was up 0.16 percent to $56.88 per barrel.

Brent Crude gained 0.2 percent to $63.60 per barrel.

Gold was up 0.07 percent to $1,281 an ounce.

Business News across Asia

In the Philippines, the country’s outsourcing industry, which has been a strong sector for the country given its cheap labor, is facing unprecedented challenges from the rise of artificial intelligence, per Reuters. The industry could lose $23 billion to AI.

Take Away: This shows the “nightmare” about job-killing AI machines may be coming into reality. According to the story, up to 50 percent of jobs in the Business Process Outsourcing industry in the Philippines could be lost.

In New Zealand, comments from the country’s central bank on the inflation outlook that have been viewed as hawkish have pushed the New Zealand dollar to a two-week high against the US dollar.

Take Away: Although interest rates remain unchanged for now, expectations for future rate hikes in New Zealand are clear and forex traders are positioning themselves.

Featured image from Pixabay.

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.