Daily Archive: December 28, 2017


2018 could be year winds blow in contrarians’ favour

Strong global economy could be starting point for pessimists to feel empowered


FTSE 100 hits record high; Bitcoin falls as South Korea announces crackdown – as it happened

All the day’s economic and financial news, as South Korea pledges new regulations on cryptocurrency trading

Latest: FTSE 100 creeps higherSouth Korea bans anonymous cryptocurrency accounts
Regulators could close virtual coin exchanges
Money-launderers to face ‘maximum sentences’Analyst: Regulators fear a crashBitcoin sheds $1,000, as it drops back to $14,000

5.27pm GMT

The FTSE 100 may have hit a new closing peak, supported by rising commodity prices, but it was a more mixed picture elsewhere.

In rather muted trading ahead of the new year break, most European markets slipped back, while Wall Street is holding on to its early gains. The final scores in Europe showed:

4.36pm GMT

Breaking news:

The FTSE 100 has hit another record closing high – but only just. The index ended the last full trading day of the year (tomorrow traders knock off work at 12.30) up a magnificent 0.03% at 7622.88.

4.20pm GMT

Wall Street is still in positive territory, but European markets are drifting lower as we head to the close. Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG, said:

The final full session of the year has seen European markets drop slightly, with an absence of catalysts prompting a drift to the downside. London’s ability to hold above 7600 should come as encouragement to UK investors, even with several heavyweights going ex-dividend today.

However, stocks on the continent have continued their sideways pattern of the past two weeks, as they look ahead into a 2018 that will see the ECB cut back its monthly purchase levels and a host of political issues. However, as the big investors cut back on their European exposure, one of the big themes of this year, there will be plenty of opportunities for ordinary investors to pick up bargains and gain exposure to one of the healthier parts of the global economy, assuming they can stomach the potential volatility from various elections.

4.14pm GMT

Over with bitcoin, and the cryptocurrency is off its lows of the day but still down nearly 8% at $14,152.

2.59pm GMT

On the Chicago data, Jamie Satchi, economist at MNI Indicators, said:

Sentiment among businesses started 2017 in good shape and only impressed more as the year progressed. December’s result secured the MNI Chicago Business Barometer’s first full year of expansion since 2014 and with new orders ending the quarter in fine shape there is every chance this form could be carried over into 2018.

2.51pm GMT

Some strong US data, in the shape of the Chicago purchasing managers index.

The index has jumped from 63.9 in November to 67.6 in the final month of the year. This is far better than the decline to 62 which had been expected, and marks the highest level since March 2011.

2.34pm GMT

US markets are on the rise, helped by a weaker dollar and a rally in commodity prices, although trading is thin in the run up to the new year break.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 39 points or 0.15% while the S&P 500 opened up 0.14% and the Nasdaq Composite 0.21%.

1.52pm GMT

Just in: America’s labour market remains strong, with just 245,000 people filing new claims for unemployment benefit last week.

Although more than expected, it’s still a low figure by historical standards.

US weekly jobless claims total 245,000, vs 240,000 estimate https://t.co/Ny3t3rC1La

1.37pm GMT

Bitcoin is on track to post its ninth daily fall in 12 days.

Lots of red on that bitcoin table recently. pic.twitter.com/JtFyzdmIrn

1.29pm GMT

Bitcoin has now clawed its way back over $14,000, but it’s still down over 7% today since South Korea announced its clampdown (details here).

Naeem Aslam of Think Markets says regulatory threats have triggered the selloff, but points out that bitcoin has suffered similar slumps before.

After forming a high of $16,416 this week, the cryptocurrency came under a selling pressure as traders showed their reaction to South Korea’s news. The country is determined to curb the speculative market and it would take measures to stop and review various crypto-exchanges.

The reality is that the market is way too overheated and no one wants the cryptocurrency popping on their door steps. However, this is surely not the first time that we have witnessed this kind of reaction in the Bitcoin price.

Bitcoin is coming under selling pressure once again, with efforts by South Korean authorities to rein in speculation being blamed….

While this is likely a contributing factor, I wonder if given the pre-holiday drop, whether speculators have become more sensitive to negative news.

12.45pm GMT

Readers might assume that shares in London are up because the pound is having one of its wobbles (because a falling pound boosts the profits of multinational companies listed in London).

But actually, sterling is up 0.25% against the US dollar today, at $1.343.

US Dollar Touches 1-Month Low as It Heads for Worst Year Since 2003 https://t.co/eNd9sCz2lv via @markets pic.twitter.com/lUS2iesyPm

12.21pm GMT

The FTSE 250 index of medium-sized companies has also hit a new all-time high.

It’s up a modest 23 points at 29,663.

12.00pm GMT

Newsflash: Britain’s FTSE 100 has just hit a new all-time high!

11.51am GMT

US companies involved in the blockchain – the ‘digital ledger’ technology that underpins bitcoin – are also under pressure in premarket trading.

Reuters reports that Riot Blockchain is down 7.7% premarket, LongFin Corp has lost 5.7% percent, Overstock.com has dipped by 4.8%, while Nova LifeStyle has shed 4.1%.

JUST IN: Stocks of blockchain-related companies down premarket after South Korea to impose new curbs on cryptocurrency trading pic.twitter.com/Ll87BT1D8k

11.04am GMT

Yikes, a sudden squall of selling just swept bitcoin down to $13,500, wiping a few hundred dollar off its value in under a minute.

It’s now clawing its way back, though — a reminder of how volatile digital currencies can be (not an ideal characteristic in a store of value…)

10.41am GMT

Bitcoin update: It’s currently bobbing around $13,990 on the BitStamp exchange in Luxembourg, down 8.5% so far today (and 28% below last week’s record highs).

10.30am GMT

Looking away from bitcoin, we’ve just learned that UK mortgage approvals dropped to a 15-month low last month.

10.15am GMT

Today the financial markets are mostly “watching Bitcoin (fanatics vs the controlling tendencies of governments and central banks) and dealing with year-end tidying-up operations” says Kit Juckes of Societe Generale.

10.14am GMT

Guardian Business has launched a daily email.

Besides the key news headlines that you’d expect, there’s an at-a-glance agenda of the day’s main events, insightful opinion pieces and a quality feature to sink your teeth into each day.

Related: Business Today: sign up for a morning shot of financial news

10.02am GMT

The Financial Times says today’s clampdown shows South Korea is keen to take some heat out of its domestic bitcoin market:

The measures include a ban on opening anonymous cryptocurrency accounts to boost transparency and legislation to allow regulators to close digital currency exchanges if needed, a recommendation made by the justice ministry worried about scams involving cryptocurrency trading.

“The regulator is saying to exchanges to have proper cyber security and proper know-your-client processes in place,” said Cedric Jeanson, chief executive of BitSpread, a cryptocurrency market maker. “With the market overheating in Korea, it is quite natural that the regulator thinks, ‘let’s make sure this is done properly’.”

Bitcoin slips as South Korea threatens to shut exchanges https://t.co/VBvnrrwAxv

9.52am GMT

South Korea’s new curbs on bitcoin come just nine days after a Seoul-based digital currency exchange declared itself bankrupt after being hacked for the second time.

The Youbut exchange shut down after losing 17% of its assets in a cyber attack which was later blamed on North Korean hackers.

9.31am GMT

Bitcoin futures are also falling sharply today, on CME’s new derivatives platform (launched last week).

9.20am GMT

European stock markets are subdued this morning, in a sharp contrast to bitcoin.

Britain’s FTSE 100 rose by just 10 points to 7,630, which wasn’t quite enough to catch yesterday’s record high.

8.48am GMT

Politicians in Seoul have been fretting about bitcoin for some time, leading up to today’s crackdown on anonymous trading and the threat to close exchanges.

Bloomberg explains:

South Korea has been ground zero for a global surge in interest in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as prices surged this year, prompting the nation’s prime minister to worry over the impact on Korean youth.

While there’s no immediate indication Asia’s No. 4 economy will shutter exchanges that have accounted by some measures for more than fifth of global trading, the news poses a warning as regulators the world over express concerns about private digital currencies.

8.37am GMT

Today’s selloff has dragged bitcoin away from its pre-Christmas peak, but its still up around 1,400% this year.

8.09am GMT

South Korea’s cryptocurrency curbs suggest that officials are getting worried about the consequences of a digital currency crash.

Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia Pacific at Oanda, says (via Bloomberg):

“Regulators are getting so concerned that this is primarily and predominantly a retail phenomenon.

“Regulators not only in Asia but globally are going to start addressing this fact because I don’t think they’ve actually come to terms with what the absolute downside of a complete drop in crypto means for the economy.”

7.59am GMT

Bitcoin is suffering fresh losses today after South Korea’s government announced a clampdown on digital currencies.

“Officials share the view that virtual currency trading is overheating irrationally … and we can no longer overlook this abnormal speculative situation.

“We will … resolutely respond to such crimes by slapping maximum sentences possible on offenders,” the government said, vowing to “leave all policy options open, including closure of a cryptocurrency exchange when deemed necessary.”

South Korea warns of shutting and reviewing of exchanges, #Bitcoin drops over $2800 pic.twitter.com/30fXXqkHh9

7.42am GMT

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.

European opening calls suggest a sedentary session though mining stocks may help FTSE – FTSE +8, DAX -23, CAC -10 (futures) courtesy of IG at 7.15am

With only two trading sessions remaining for 2017, liquidity dried up across the global markets. This has been obvious in U.S. and European equities, where volumes dropped significantly.

However, some investors continued to tweak their portfolios slightly, leading to insignificant price action. I don’t expect equities to deviate much throughout Thursday and Friday.

Continue reading…


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