Asian Market Update – Wednesday: Cryptocurrencies tumble on more attacks on the industry

Bitcoin under attack

The Big Question: For how long can bitcoin withstand all the attacks?

Prices of cryptocurrencies tumbled during the Asian trading session on Wednesday, as more attacks were directed at the virtual currency industry from prominent figures such as JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon and from NORTH KOREA.

The bitcoin price dropped more than 3 percent overnight to about $4,034 before midday in Asia. That’s close to one of the lowest levels of around $4,020 in recent weeks seen on Sunday after news of China planning to ban commercial trading made a wave across the virtual currency world.

The ethereum price fell 2.85 percent to $285.53 around midday. The digital currency has been on a downtrend since late yesterday, falling from around $316.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said Tuesday that bitcoin is a “fraud.” He told CNBC that “[bitcoin] is just not a real thing, eventually it will be closed.” But Dimon said he is not suggesting investors to go short bitcoin.

North Korea is reportedly building a bitcoin stash for rainy days (UN sanctions) but it’s not trying to get bitcoin in the way everyone else is – buying. Reports said that the North has launched several cyber attacks on South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges, starting in May this year.

While North Korea’s attack highlights concerns over security, Dimon’s remarks represent the doubt of some mainstream traders and governments about virtual currencies.

On Monday, several media outlets reported, citing unnamed sources, that Chinese officials have already drafted an instruction to shut down coin exchanges and ban commercial trading. China has already placed a ban on initial coin offerings or ICOs.

Main Market Movers – Mid-day Asian Trading Session

Indexes Value at Midday Daily Change
Japan-Nikkei Stock Average 225 19,869.82 0.47%
China-Shanghai Composite Index 3,374.89 -0.09%
Hong Kong –Hang Seng 27,850.02 -0.44%
Australia-ASX 200 5,759.00 0.22%
South Korea-KOSPI 2,369.08 0.15%

Most major Asian stock indexes were mixed on Wednesday, as indexes in Japan, South Korea and Australia climbed, following gains on Wall Street. Indexes in Greater China posted a slight decline.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 added 0.47 percent to 19,869.82 around midday.

In South Korea, the KOSPI gained a slight 0.15 percent to 2,369.08.

Down under, the benchmark ASX 200 tacked on 0.22 percent to 5,759.00.

The gains in Asian indexes followed the record highs seen in the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial on talks of tax reform and eased concerns over hurricane Irma in the US and geopolitical tensions on the Korea Peninsula.

In Greater China, the Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.09 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.44 percent.

Currencies

The Japanese yen gained a slight 0.06 percent against the US dollar at midday in the Asian trading session on Wednesday. The USD/JPY rate was at 110.08.

The Chinese yuan gained 0.1 percent to 6.5290 per US dollar. The yuan lost against the greenback in the previous day to as low as 6,5430 after the central bank changes two regulations on foreign exchange, seeming to indicate to let the yuan move more freely.

The Australian dollar gained 0.02 percent against the US dollar. The Australian dollar was trading at 1.2462 per dollar.

Commodities

WTI Oil was down 0.29 percent to $48.20 per barrel.

Brent Crude lost 0.18 percent to $54.11 per barrel.

Gold was also down 0.05 percent to $1,331 an ounce.

Business News across Asia

In China, opinions are mixed about the new iPhones, with some saying they were not impressed by the upgrades to iPhone 8 or even the iPhone X, and indicated that they would choose domestic brands such as Huawei. Others are already lining up to get their hands on the first batch of iPhones. Some iPhone scalpers in China say price for iPhone X could be pushed up to 20,000 yuan or about $3,063, compared to the official price of $999.

Take away: Apple has been having a tough time in China, amid increasing competition from local brands such as Huawei, Xiaomi and others. The new iPhones are Apple’s bet to get back on the top of the world’s largest smartphone market, but things are not looking all positive.

In India, Visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian PM Narendra Modi are reportedly quietly ramping up a plan to build up their own regional connectivity, competing with China’s Belt and Road Initiative. India and Japan have shown reservation about Chinese President Xi Jinping’s vision to connect the Eurasia region and Africa.

Take Away: Though there was no concrete plan reported between India and Japan, the pair seems to be on to something that could change both geopolitical and economic dynamics in Asia.

Featured image from Max Pixel.

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.