Asian Market Update – Thursday: Litecoin leads the way lower; Asian stocks extend New Years’ rally

falling lower

Ethereum boasts impressive New Year’s rally.

Bitcoin, ethereum and litecoin were all lower Thursday morning in Asia, led by a big drop in litecoin prices.

Shortly after midday, litecoin was down over 5 percent to $232. So far this year, litecoin has been failed to regain much of the losses seen at the end of last year. Yesterday, the virtual currency was down about 3.3 percent, erasing part of a 12.5 percent gain on Tuesday.

Bitcoin was also down 1.4 percent to $14,884 shortly after midday. Bitcoin has posted two straight days of gains on Tuesday and Wednesday, adding about 12 percent to its price, before it fell back down on Thursday morning. However, the virtual currency is nowhere near the highs seen in mid-December.

Ethereum was nearly flat after midday on Thursday, after trading in negative territory earlier in the morning. Ethereum has been one of the winners in the first few days of 2018, adding about 26 percent since January 1.

Main Market Movers – Mid-day Asian Trading Session

Indexes Value at Midday Daily Change
Japan- Nikkei 225 23,434 2.94%
China-Shanghai Composite Index 3,386 0.53%
Hong Kong –Hang Seng 30,749 0.62%
South Korea-KOSPI 2,486 0.27%
Australia-ASX 200 6,077 0.11%
S&P 500 E-Mini Futures 2,713 0.14%

Asian stocks continued on a solid upswing on Thursday morning, led by a big jump in Japan on the country’s first trading day of the new year. Investors’ confidence in the fundamentals continues to improve as fresh data suggest economic recovery is likely to continue in the new year.

The Nikkei 225 jumped 2.94 percent to 23,434 shortly after midday on Thursday – the first trading day of 2018 for Japanese traders. Confidence was boosted by a robust expansion in the Japanese manufacturing sector in December, according to the new Markit/Caixin manufacturing PMI, which came in at the highest level in nearly four years.

Also, fresh indication from the Bank of Japan suggest that the central bank is set to continue its ultra-easy monetary policies in the new year, despite recent improvements in the Japanese economy. BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said the bank would “patiently” maintain its policies.

On the Chinese mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.53 percent at midday on Thursday to 3,386. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index moved up 0.62 percent to 30,749 at midday.

A private survey out on Thursday showed that China’s services sector expanded at its fastest pace in more than three years in December, boosting expectations that the world’s second-largest economy is going to maintain stable growth into 2018.

In South Korea, the Kospi was up 0.27 percent to 2,486 at midday.

Down under, the ASX 200 was 0.11 percent higher, trading at 6,077 as of midday in Australia.

The S&P 500 E-Mini Future was up 0.14 percent to 2,713.

Currencies

The Japanese yen lost 0.11 percent against the US dollar at midday Thursday, changing hands at 112.62 per dollar.

The Chinese yuan was down 0.07 percent against the US dollar at 6.5055 per dollar.

The Australian dollar firmed 0.06 percent on the dollar, changing hands at 1.2753 per dollar at midday.

Commodities

WTI Oil was up 0.27 percent to $62.09 per barrel at midday on Thursday.

Brent Crude gained 0.22 percent to $68.11 per barrel.

Gold was down 0.30 percent to $1,308 an ounce.

News across Asia

In China, the country’s services sector activity grew at its fastest pace in more than three years in December, according to a private survey out on Thursday. The Caixin/Markit services purchasing managers’ index rose to 53.9 in December, the highest reading since August 2014.

Take away: The Chinese government has been focusing on boosting the services sector to offset a slowdown in investment and export, in an effort to maintain stable growth. This has shown some progress so far, but services sector still has long way to go to replace investments and exports to become the main driver of the Chinese economy.

In Japan, Japanese manufacturing activity grew at its fastest pace in nearly four years in December, a private survey showed on Thursday. The Markit/Nikkei Japan Manufacturing Final Purchasing Manager index was adjusted to 54 in December, the highest reading since February 2014.

Take away: This is the latest sign that suggest the Japanese economy will continue to see solid growth in 2018.

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.