Asian Market Update – Thursday: Cryptocurrencies Tumble; Asian Stocks Move Up

tumble

Will cryptocurrencies end the year on a negative note?

Prices of the main cryptocurrencies tumbled on Thursday morning, with significant losses seen in bitcoin, ethereum and litecoin.

As of midday, bitcoin was down 7.43 percent to $14,189. The virtual currency is down for the second straight day, after gaining about 11.4 percent on Tuesday. The price lost about 2.7 percent on Wednesday. Thursday morning, the coin dropped to as low as $13,801 at one point, before it bounced back.

Ethereum was down 5.19 percent to $701 at midday Thursday in Hong Kong. The virtual currency lost about 2 percent on Wednesday.

Litecoin dropped 6.74 percent to $246 at midday on Thursday. The virtual currency is now trading at the lowest level since December 12.

In the news, the South Korean government said on Thursday that it would introduce more measures to rein in speculation in cryptocurrency trading in the country. The measures would include a ban on anonymous cryptocurrency trading accounts and legislation to shut down exchanges when deemed necessary, per Reuters.

Main Market Movers – Midday Asian Trading Session

Indexes Value at Midday Daily Change
Japan- Nikkei 225 22,896 -0.06%
China-Shanghai Composite Index 3,292 0.52%
Hong Kong –Hang Seng 29,787 0.64%
South Korea-KOSPI 2,436 0.38%
Australia-ASX 200 6,080 0.18%
S&P 500 E-Mini Futures 2,686 0.05%

Stock markets in the Asia Pacific saw moderate gains on Thursday morning, led by markets on the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong.

In China, the Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.52 percent to 3,292. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index moved up 0.64 percent to 29,787.

Recent media reports suggest that the Chinese government is mulling new policies to further open up the country’s financial sector to foreign investors in 2018, though details of such opening have not yet surfaced. China has recently opened up the asset management market to foreign investors and lifted restrictions on foreign companies that act as stakeholders in Chinese joint ventures.

In South Korea, the Kospi edged up 0.38 percent to 2,436 at midday.

Down under, the S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.18 percent at 6,080.

Overall, the S&P 500 E-Mini Future was 0.05 percent higher to 2,661 at midday on Thursday.

However, in Japan, the Nikkei 225 Index was down 0.06 percent to 22,896 at midday. A debate over whether the BOJ should raise interest rates or lower purchases of exchange-traded funds has emerged within the central bank, as some board members advocating such measures as a response to recent improvements in the Japanese economy.

Currencies

The Japanese yen firmed 0.29 percent against the US dollar at midday Thursday changing hands at 113.01 per dollar.

The Chinese yuan also firmed 0.23 percent against the US dollar to 6.5409 per dollar.

The Australian dollar was up 0.26 percent on the dollar, changing hands at 1.2831 per dollar at midday.

Commodities

WTI Oil was up 0.25 percent to $59.73 per barrel.

Brent Crude edged up 0.23 percent to $66.04 per barrel.

Gold gained 0.29 percent to $1,2901 an ounce.

News across Asia

In Japan, the country’s industrial output and retail sales continued to post strong growth in November, offering fresh signals that the world’s third-largest economy remain strong and could continue to be solid in 2018. Industrial output grew 0.6 percent, while retail sales rose 2.2 percent in November.

Take away: Strong external demand boosted the industrial activities, while falling unemployment and higher wages fueled retail sales.

In China, the country’s Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday that the European Union’s recent anti-dumping investigation into Chinese exporters of electric bikes is “disappointing” and against WTO rules.

Take away: This is just part of a broad trend of escalating trade tensions between China and the EU. Further escalation is expected in 2018, as the two sides are fighting a legal battle at the WTO over China’s market economy status. 

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.