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Week in Review: Bitcoin Returns to Record Highs, Stocks Falter Amid Volatility

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The battle of the bitcoins raged on this week, with the original blockchain gaining the upper hand en route to new highs. Bitcoin’s record-setting run took the broader cryptocurrency market to new peaks, with the total market cap surpassing $230 billion for the first time.

Equity markets were choppy this week, as investors mulled a controversial debate over U.S. tax reform. Earnings have been mostly positive, with Wall Street wrapping up another quarter of solid year-over-year gains.

Energy markets rebounded sharply on Friday after a soft week. Precious metals also popped as the dollar lost ground against a basket of world currencies.

Bitcoin Hits $8,000

Bitcoin once again dominated the spotlight this week as prices crossed $8,000 for the first time . BTC/USD reached an intraday high of $8,011.19 on Friday, and was last seen trading at $7,716 for a weekly gain of 17%.

Bitcoin Cash (BCH) settled at $1,185 on Friday for a weekly gain of 21%. Most of the advance occurred on Friday as bitcoin’s alternative regained momentum. At this time last week, BCH was trading near record highs after backers of Segwit2x abandoned their hard fork. Since the hard fork was shelved, BTC and BCH have had multiple instances of inverse trading.

Altcoins Gain Momentum

The market’s leading altcoins also made a move higher this week, with Litecoin reaching two-month highs. LTC/USD broke above $73 on Thursday before paring gains over the next 24 hours to trade around $66.72. The coin returned more than 13% for the week.

The ether blockchain also caught a tailwind, with ETH/USD reaching a high of $345. By Friday, Ethereum was trading at $331 for a weekly return of 11%.

Ripple, another highly active altcoin, spiked more than 45% in the week through Thursday before it too pared gains the following session. XRP/USD climbed 10% over the five-day period to settle around 0.2221.

Stocks Slip in Volatile Trade

U.S. stocks booked narrow weekly losses as the threat of a technical reversal loomed large for investors. Concerns about President Trump’s tax bill also weighed on investor sentiment amid signs that corporate tax cuts will be phased in gradually over a two-year period.

The large-cap S&P 500 Index closed down 0.3% on Friday to settle at 2,578.85. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 100.12 points, or 0.4%, to 23,358.24 on Friday. That was its second triple-digit loss of the week.

Both indexes recorded their second straight week of declines.

A measure of 30-day volatility known as the CBOE VIX spiked to three-month highs during the week, but eventually settled relatively flat. Vol briefly traded above 14.00 on Wednesday, before reversing most of those gains in the back half of the week. The VIX, which trades on a scale of 1-100, closed at 11.43 on Friday.

Commodities Return to Strength

Commodity markets finished the week on a positive note thanks in part to a weaker dollar. The U.S. dollar index (DXY) settled down 0.3% in the final session of the week.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for December settlement rose 2.6% on Friday to close at $56.55 a barrel, largely overcoming a three-day skid. Brent crude, the international futures benchmark, closed up 2.2% on Friday to settle at $62.73 a barrel.

Precious metals surged on Friday, with December gold fast approaching the all-important $1,300 price level. The futures contract climbed $18.30, or 1.4%, to settle at $1,296.50 a troy ounce on Friday.

Comex silver futures also shot up on Friday, adding 30 cents, or 1.8%, to $17.37 a troy ounce. Gold’s premium over silver declined sharply as a result.

In addition to a slumping dollar, speculation that the Federal Reserve may hold off on raising interest rates next month also appears to have factored into the rally in precious metals. Although the chances of a rate hike are extremely high, traders are lowering their bets slightly in anticipation of economic data. The 30-day Fed Fund futures prices imply a 91.5% likelihood of liftoff next month.

Earlier this month, President Trump appointed Jerome Powell to head the Fed at the conclusion of Janet Yell’s  term in February. Although Powell will provide a sense of continuity, he is also looking to reform the Fed’s communication process. This could mean adjusting or doing away with the now infamous “dot plot” chart of interest rate expectations.

The Week Ahead

With bitcoin continuing to flirt with all-time highs, investors can expect another active week for the crypto market.

On the economic calendar, a steady stream of market-moving events headlined by European and U.S. data will make headlines Market volumes are expected to dip somewhat during the latter half of the week as U.S. investors break for the Thanksgiving long weekend.

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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4.7 stars on average, based on 773 rated postsChief Editor to Hacked.com and Contributor to CCN.com, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi




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Market Overview

U.S. Stocks Post Biggest Drop in Two Weeks as Business Investment Spells Trouble for the Economy

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The U.S. stock market declined on Thursday, snapping a three-day winning streak and heading for its worst loss in two weeks after the latest report on durable goods revealed a sharp slowdown in business investment. Crypto markets corrected lower as trade volumes continued to unwind from their yearly peak.

Stocks Retreat

All of Wall Street’s benchmark indexes headed for losses, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 103.81 points, or 0.4%, to close at 25,850.63. The broad S&P 500 Index fell 0.4% to 2,774.88, with seven of 11 primary industries reporting losses. The technology-focused Nasdaq Composite Index closed down 0.4% at 7,459.71.

Disappointing quarterly results weighed on the major indexes after Domino’s Pizza Inc. (DPZ) reported earnings and revenue that disappointed investors. Hormel Foods Corporation (HRL) also missed analysts’ expectations.

S&P 500 companies have mostly beaten quarterly earnings estimates, but that could soon change, according to FactSet. The research firm anticipates a sharp downturn in profitability for Q1 2019 based on January EPS estimates. More on that story can be found here.

Economic Data Mostly Positive, with One Big Caveat

U.S. economic indicators were largely positive on Thursday, with one very big caveat: a gauge of business investment fell for the fourth time in five months.

The Commerce Department reported on Thursday that durable goods orders – a proxy for manufacturing demand – rose at a seasonally adjusted 1.2% in December. When removing the volatile transportation category, orders rose at a much slower 0.1% pace. A closer look at the report revealed that new orders for nondefense capital goods, a bellwether for business investment, fell 0.7% in December. Clearly, American businesses are feeling the effects of global economic uncertainty.

Most of the other major releases Thursday were positive. Initial jobless claims fell by 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 216,000 in the latest week, the Labor Department said.

A measure of U.S. private-sector business known as the Composite purchasing managers’ index (PMI) improved to eight-month highs in February. Markit’s PMI gauge climbed to 55.8 from 54.4 in January. All of the monthly gains were attributed to the services sector, which accounts for the vast majority of economic output.

Cryptocurrencies See Minor Pullback

The major cryptocurrencies posted modest declines on Thursday, as the total market cap fell by around $3 billion. Daily exchange trading has also fallen by roughly $10 billion from its peak on Tuesday. As far as we can tell, the daily turnover printed on Tuesday was the highest in at least ten months.

Crypto Update: Litecoin Leads Pullback in Majors

Litecoin (LTC) led the pivot lower among the majors, falling 4% to $49.12. The LTC price peaked at four-month highs earlier this week.

Bitcoin cash (BCH) posted a drop of 2.9% to $142.72. XRP`s price broke below 32 cents after falling 2.4%. Ethereum (ETH) edged down 1.2% to $145.83.

Losses for Bitcoin (BTC) were capped at 1% during the day. It was last down 0.9% at %3,948.36, according to aggregate data from CoinMarketCap.

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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4.7 stars on average, based on 773 rated postsChief Editor to Hacked.com and Contributor to CCN.com, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi




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Market Overview

U.S. Stocks Rise as Fed Confirms Dovish Pivot

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U.S. stocks extended their gains Wednesday after the Federal Reserve offered further reassurance that it will hold off on raising interest rates for the time being. Cryptocurrencies reported a mixture of modest gains and losses as volumes backed off from their yearly highs.

Stocks Extend Rally

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 63.12 points, or 0.2%, to close at 25,954,44. The blue-chip index has risen in five of the past six sessions and looks poised to reach 26,000 this week.

The broad S&P 500 Index finished up 0.2% to 2,784.70. Materials stocks led six of 11 primary sectors higher, with most of the gains concentrated in primary industry.

Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index pared gains to finish flat at 7,489.07.

Stocks are in the midst of an eight-week rally, but the following chart spells trouble for the S&P 500 Index.

Fed Puts on the Brakes

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday provided more details as to why it decided to be patient with normalizing monetary policy. In the official transcript of last month’s meeting, Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) members cited stock market volatility and weaker global economic growth as the main obstacles standing in the way of policy normalization.

According to the minutes, there were a “variety of considerations that supported a patient approach.” Additionally, “a patient posture would allow time for a clearer picture of the international trade policy situation and the state of the global economy to emerge and, in particular, could allow policymakers to reach a firmer judgment about the extent and persistence of the economic slowdown in Europe and China.”

The Fed’s dovish pivot last month allowed the stock market to extend a bullish revival that began just after Christmas. Central bankers will hold their next policy meeting next month. The March interest rate statement will be accompanied by a revised summary of economic projections covering GDP, unemployment and inflation.

Crypto Markets Flatline

The combined value of all cryptocurrencies hovered north of $135 billion on Wednesday, where it was little changed compared with the previous day. Markets succumbed to a fresh wave of selling overnight, as bitcoin and the major altocins reported modest declines. By the early morning, most of the losses had disappeared.

Trading volumes dipped below $30 billion but were well off the highs from Tuesday. An influx of capital into the crypto ecosystem could make for volatile trading conditions in the near term.

Bitcoin was last seen trading at $3,983.49, according to CoinMarketCap, an aggregate data provider. The bitcoin price is trading hands well north of $4,000 on Bitfinex.

Ethereum’s price was little changed at $147.83. XRP edged down 1.7% to $0.30275. EOS extended its rally, climbing 5.3% to $3.84. Read more: Litecoin, EOS, Binance Coin, Maker: Altcoins Leading the Charge.

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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4.7 stars on average, based on 773 rated postsChief Editor to Hacked.com and Contributor to CCN.com, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi




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Market Overview

USA is Ready to Invest in Crypto

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Hi Everyone,

In our ongoing effort to bring crypto to the general public, we’ve done yet another survey, this time focusing on online traders in the USA.

The results are clear as day, the United States is more than ready to invest in crypto.

Definitely make sure to read the full report with all the jaw-dropping stats and the methodology of the poll. This is extremely encouraging.

@MatiGreenspan
eToro, Senior Market Analyst

Today’s Highlights

  • US-China trade deadline: 9 days | Days to Brexit: 37
  • Unsustainable Trajectory
  • Crypto Rally Stalls

Please note: All data, figures & graphs are valid as of February 20th. All trading carries risk. Only risk capital you can afford to lose.

Traditional Markets

Everyone will stop what they’re doing at 2:00 PM New York time today to take in the FOMC‘s meeting minutes. During their last meeting, the Fed did a complete 180 on policy, which many have pointed to as a complete capitulation to the market’s desires. So, when they release the minutes of that meeting it will be extremely interesting to hear what they have to say.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that there will not likely be any final deal between the US and China by March 1st. It’s also becoming increasingly clear that this deadline was never very significant in the first place. Trump has indicated that he’s willing to let the deadline slide if significant progress is being made, and many feel that it is, however, until we get final confirmation of that it will remain in our countdown above. It wouldn’t be the first time Trump changed his mind at the last moment.

As well, I’ve decided to leave the Brexit countdown timer set for March 29th, the day Article 50 kicks in, rather than the new self-imposed deadline that Parliament put on their Prime Minister.

Markets are now returning to their normal levels of volatility.

Trajectory Unsustainable

After crashing in January and making a huge comeback in January, financial markets are now remarkably average.

The 200-day moving average (blue line) shows us the average price of the last 200 days and is one of the most widely watched indicators among technical analysts. Here we can see that the Nasdaq 100 is now at this level.

Many analysts were quick to point out that if we ignore 2018 and look only at the stock market performance from January 1st, we’re actually seeing stellar results.

Some pundits even take this a step further. Here’s a graph posted by @StockCats who pointed out that the current trajectory of the markets does look a bit unsustainable.

Crypto Rally Stalled – Where to Next?

Let’s face it, these last few days have been amazing. However, even within this longest crypto bear market of all time, there have been rallies before that ended up fizzling out. So, even though it’s possible we go to the moon from here, it certainly pays to be cautious.

One thing that’s interesting to me is the different spins that some of the mainstream media are putting on this. The Independent is saying that it’s because of the Galaxy S10 Crypto Wallet…

…while Bloomberg is saying that…

Forbes, on the other hand, seemed to focus on the altcoin markets.

For me, it’s pretty clear that this whole thing began due to a shortage in Ethereum creation. As I explained in an interview with BlockTV yesterday, the creation of new Ether tokens has been severely limited lately. Especially for those of you who are less inclined to look at graphs and charts, feel free to watch the recording here.

For hose of you who do like charts, check this out. This supply shortage while demand remained consistent caused Ethereum’s price to rise dramatically and the rest of the cryptos followed. By today, we’re going on sheer momentum. After months of depressed prices, it’s about time we had a real rally in this market.

As I’m writing, it does seem that we may be getting a continuation of the rally but it’s still too early to tell. Let’s see where the day brings us.

Wishing you an excellent day. As always, please continue sending in your valuable feedbacks, questions, comments, and insights. It is always useful and always appreciated.

Best regards,

Mati Greenspan
Senior Market Analyst

Connect with me on….

eToro: @MatiGreenspan Twitter: @MatiGreenspan LinkedInMatiGreenspan |Facebook:MatiGreen

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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4.6 stars on average, based on 152 rated postsSenior Market Analyst at Etoro.com.




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