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Oil Hits Mid-2015 Highs as Tech Drags on U.S. Stocks

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U.S. stocks finished lower on Tuesday, as a major overhaul of the  tax code before Christmas failed to brighten investor sentiment. Meanwhile, oil prices rose to their highest level since mid-2015 after a Libyan pipeline blast threatened supplies.

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Stocks Struggle for Momentum

U.S. stocks finished mostly lower on Tuesday, with technology companies among the worst performers. The S&P 500 Index closed down 0.1% at 2,680.50, with four of 11 sectors contributing to the decline.

The index’s information technology component fell 0.7%, with hardware companies and semiconductor providers shouldering the heaviest losses.

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Shares of Apple Inc. (AAPL) declined on reports of weaker than expected iPhone X demand. Taiwan’s Economic Daily News reported that Apple will slash its outlook for iPhone X sales this quarter to 30 million units from 50 million. Other reports suggested that the iPhone X’s $999 price tag could reduce consumer demand.

Apple’s weak performance weighed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The blue-chip index, which tracks 30 of Wall Street’s biggest companies, finished virtually flat at 24,746.21.

Stumbling tech shares also weighed on the Nasdaq Composite Index, which fell 0.3% to 6,936.25.

Other sectors to report losses included utilities, financials and materials.

A measure of 30-day volatility known as the CBOE VIX rose on Tuesday and closed at its highest level in almost two weeks. The so-called “fear index,” which trades on a scale of 1-100, rose 3.5% to 10.25.

U.S. Crude Hits $60

Oil futures traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose above $60 a barrel on Tuesday for the first time since June 2015. The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) benchmark for U.S. crude futures rose $1.33, or 2.3%, to $59.80 a barrel. ICE Brent futures climbed $1.56, or 2.4%, to $66.81 a barrel.

Oil prices have been trekking higher on renewed confidence that major oil crude producers will be able to drain the supply glut. However, the Tuesday rally was triggered by news of a pipeline explosion in Libya, which reportedly compromised 90,000 barrels a day in supply. The war-torn African nation pumped 973,000 barrels per day in November.

Rising oil prices lifted other energy-related investments. Energy stocks traded on the S&P 500 Index were the top performers Tuesday, rising 0.8%.

Crude wasn’t the only commodity to strengthen on Tuesday. Gold prices rallied $8.80, or 0.7%, to $1,287.60 a troy ounce on the Comex division of Nymex. That was bullion’s highest level in nearly a month.

Commodity traders took advantage of a subdued U.S. dollar after the holidays. The dollar index (DXY) traded within a narrow range before consolidating at 93.29. The DXY index is headed for a yearly decline of roughly 9%.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

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Market Overview

I Have a Dream Today: HK, Oil & Gold Up, ETC and Ethereum

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Today we celebrate the birthday of a true American hero. One who fought for freedom for all in a country that promised the world and delivered nothing.

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“In a sense, we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check.”

King said in his famous speech, referring directly to the promise of freedom on which the United States was founded but “it is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note…”

Indeed, the United States seems to enjoy writing checks that it cannot cash. Still, Martin Luther King Jr. was quite optimistic. He believed that his people need only demand payment on that check for its promises of freedom to be redeemed.

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By now many of Dr. King’s initial demands have been met but the fight has evolved. Victims of inequality are not necessarily defined by the color of their skin, nor do they reside solely within the borders of the United States.

We must press on in his symbolic shadow and demand freedom for everyone throughout this entire planet that we all call home.

@MatiGreenspan
eToro, Senior Market Analyst

Today’s Highlights

  • Record Run in HK
  • Oil & Gold up on Weaker USD
  • Crypto Atmosphere

Please note: All data, figures & graphs are valid as of January 15th. All trading carries risk. Only risk capital you can afford to lose.

Traditional Markets

The Asian markets have put on a fantastic show so far today. The China A50 index has now surpassed it’s highs from April of 2015 and is now the highest it’s been since 2008.

The gains in China were propelled further by what’s happening in Hong Kong. The founder and CEO of Alibaba, Jack Ma announced that he is considering listing Alibaba shares on the Hang Seng.

Alibaba’s shares in the US currently hold a record for most stocks sales in an IPO and the company’s daily turnover is about 30% of the entire Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Furthermore, there are rumors that a subsidiary of the Chinese Insurance giant Ping An will be looking to raise $60 Billion from the Hong Kong market in April.

Money comes to money, and as we’ve seen so many times in the crypto market. More activity on an exchange means that everything listed on that exchange can see a boost.

Sinking Buck

The second strongest trend of 2017 was the declining US Dollar. The Dollar Index went from a high of about 103.50 in January to a low of 91.4 in December.

2018 hasn’t been great for the buck either and it’s gotten off to a rather rotten start.

Along with the weakening Dollar comes a strength in commodities. Gold and Oil are priced in USD so they have a very strong reverse corolation.

As we can see here, since Thursday morning the USD has declined 1.8% and Gold has climbed by the same amount.

Though Oil has been a lot more volatile than gold or the buck, it’s strength lately has been astounding. This strong breakout above $60 was certainly unexpected by many…

Don’t get me wrong, oil rising against a weaker Dollar is understandable, but oil rising against more production in the United States is baffeling.

Friday’s Baker Hughes report shows that 280 new rigs came online in the United States over the last year.

Very likely we could see those rigs really get going now that they can get $60+ a barrel for their output.

Crypto Market

It’s easy to make money when everything is rising but when thing get choppy like they are now it can start to get a bit frustrating, especially for beginning traders.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen a general pumping pattern where one specific crypto will dominate the market for a few days before flatlining or even pulling back.

Over the weekend, this momentum has been on Ethereum Classic, which went from $31 to $46 in about 60 hours but now may have lost the propulsion.

Ether Classic (ETC) is the hardest crypto for me to explain simply because I don’t see it as useful. It’s not a great store of value and is not meant to be a medium of exchange. So I’m scratching my head trying to figure out why crypto traders latched onto this one.

Of course, if we zoom out a bit we can see the incredible gains of ETC’s younger sister ETH. A platform that has hundreds of projects being built on top of it and currently processes more transactions than any other blockchain.

The present rise in ETC might just indicate that alternative investors are looking for a bit more risk at the moment, and if that’s the case we may see some of the altcoins or even the exotic cryptos gaining a bit. In the chart above we can spot a nice rising trendline (yellow) but if that fails to hold we should have a nice support level just below $900 a token.

Remember: Several of the traditional markets will be closed tonight for the holiday in the USA. Crypto trades 24/7. This content is provided for information and educational purposes only and should not be considered to be investment advice or recommendation. The outlook presented is a personal opinion of the analyst and does not represent an official position of eToro. Past performance is not an indication of future results. All trading involves risk; only risk capital you are prepared to lose. Cryptocurrencies can widely fluctuate in prices and are not appropriate for all investors. Trading cryptocurrencies is not supervised by any EU regulatory framework.

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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Market Overview

Asian Market Update – Monday: Asian stocks hits all-time high; cryptocurrencies decline

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punching

Slow morning for cryptocurrencies

The top cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, ethereum, bitcoin cash, and ripple, all traded slightly lower on the first day of the week, with no significant news coming out to guide the markets.

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Bitcoin was nearly flat at midday in Asian trading; remaining below the $14,000 line that it has been hovering around in recent days.

On the positive side for bitcoin, US-based Kraken Exchange is back up after a system upgrade that was supposed to take only two hours instead lasted for two days.

Ethereum was also down as of midday in Asian trading on Monday, though much of the losses from yesterday were quickly recovered. In terms of technicals, the strong surge in ethereum that started on New Year’s Eve is still intact, as the price continues to form higher lows and higher highs, which is the typical wave-pattern we are looking for in good trends.

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As of midday in Asia, the price of ethereum is still below the $1,400 level. A break above the previous high of $1,420 would indicate a signal a new immediate surge in price.

Ripple XRP, the number three cryptocurrency in terms of market cap, continued to consolidate Monday morning, remaining below the $2 line for the second day. Since reaching its all-time high on January 4, ripple has now corrected by more than 40 percent to its current level.

Main Market Movers – Midday Asian Trading Session

Indexes Value at Midday Daily Change
Japan- Nikkei 225 23,715 0.26%
China-Shanghai Composite Index 3,419 -0.28%
Hong Kong – Hang Seng 31,582 0.54%
South Korea-KOSPI 2,505 0.33%
Australia-ASX 200 6,077 0.12%
S&P 500 E-Mini Futures 2,794 0.17%

Asian stocks reached for new all-time highs on Monday, as the US dollar continued to weaken, boosting both commodity prices and US export-driven industries. The MSCI index tracking shares in the Asia-Pacific region (excluding Japan) finally reached a new all-time high on Monday, as it caught up with its previous high from 2007.

The US stock market has also continued to make fresh gains with the S&P E-mini future rising once again. The uptrend in the S&P 500 has accelerated in a strong way since the beginning of the New Year, proving many bears wrong.

Currencies

The Japanese yen gained 0.14 percent against the US dollar as Tokyo trading ended on Thursday, changing hands at 110.88 per dollar.

The Chinese yuan gained 0.39 percent against the US dollar, trading at 6.438 per dollar.

The Australian dollar added 0.4 percent on the US dollar, changing hands at 1.2585 per US dollar as the Australian trading day was ending.

Commodities

WTI Oil consolidated slightly Monday morning despite the weakening dollar, trading down by 0.08 percent to $64.32.

Brent Crude Oil was flat for the day, trading at $69.80

Gold continued to rise as the dollar declined, adding 0.26 percent to $1,342.

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.

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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Market Overview

India Sees Big Opportunity as China Clamps Down on Bitcoin Mining

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The crypto economy is a constant revolving door; when one digital door closes, another one opens. This largely explains India’s newfound embrace of bitcoin mining now that China has taken new regulatory measures to stamp out the highly profitable practice.

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China’s Mass Exodus

Last week, the Chinese government outlined new measures that would restrict bitcon mining operations. The new proposal was initiated by growing concerns over how crypto mining was impacting power consumption in a country that is still a long ways away from its development goals. According to various reports, the blockchain industry is looking to local regulators to guide miners out of the business.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) has been tasked with monitoring and restricting the power use of crypto mining operations, which are usually located near hydroelectric power plants.

China made a sweeping overhaul of its cryptocurrency policies last September when it banned bitcoin exchanges as well as initial coin offerings (ICOs). Despite an initial shock, the market has gone on to set multiple record highs over the last four months.

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Bitcoin miners were drawn to China for the same reasons as traditional manufacturers: low cost of energy, cheap labor and local chip production. Until the clampdown, more than three-quarters of mining operations had been installed in China. And despite rising power costs, operations are still profitable thanks to the huge rise in cryptocurrency prices over the past year.

As bitcoin miners exit the market, many will be looking to greener pastures with more favorable policies. Bitmain, which operates China’s two largest mining projects, has already announced relocation plans to Singapore. BTC.Top, another major mining operation, is opening up shop in Canada. Meanwhile, ViaBTC already has facilities in the United States and Iceland.

India’s New Opportunity

India appears to be fully embracing cryptocurrency miners in the wake of China’s mass exodus.

According to local media, India’s top crypto players have been approached by government officials to set up mining centers in the country. One such individual was recently quoted anonymously by DNA India, an English broadsheet daily website:

“We have received several offers over the past few days. We are considering it as a business opportunity as mining operations. We are now waiting for the government of India’s guidelines for crypto business.”

Indian power rates are even more competitive than China’s. According to data provider Statista, Indian power rates averaged 8 cents per killowatt hour in 2017, compared with 9 cents in China. Rates are roughly three times as high in advanced economies.

That being said, India isn’t the only jurisdiction trying to lure crypto miners. Promoter of crypto startup BFX Coin told India DNA that several countries are offering miners free electricity, rebates, tax advantages and even citizenship for setting up shop in their jurisdiction. BFX Coin has chosen India for its mining operation.

The Indian government is planning to implement new regulations to oversee the cryptocurrency market. This includes forming a panel to investigate the role of black money in the crypto world. A government official recently quoted by the Hindustan Times said the government had two issues with cryptocurrency: the source of funds being used to buy them and whether existing exchanges are adequately protecting the consumer.

Bitcoin Market

It has been a difficult start to the year for bitcoin, with the cryptocurrency failing to rise in value. Prices returned above $17,000 on Jan. 5 and 6 before running into heavy selling pressure over the next nine days. The market tested $13,000 last week on multiple occasions. Bitcoin was last seen trading at $13,454.

Bitcoin’s struggles have been largely shrugged off by the broader market. Many cryptocurrencies not named bitcoin have surged to record highs, with altcoins now dominating roughly two-thirds of the market.

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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