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Asia Markets Rise After Wall St Record, Bitcoin Peaks Again

Markets in Asia mostly followed the lead of US markets, which are at record highs, but Tokyo, Sydney, Mumbai and Singapore edged down on Tuesday

Asian markets were mixed on Monday ahead of US inflation data and a slight rise in geopolitical tension.
Asian markets were mixed on Monday ahead of US inflation data and a slight rise in geopolitical tension. File photo: AFP


Asian markets mostly rose on Tuesday following another record on Wall Street, while bitcoin hit a new peak with optimism over the recovery outlook edging out long-running inflation fears, with predictions for even more gains to come.

Traders have been in buoyant mood since the US Federal Reserve last week unveiled its plan for withdrawing its vast financial support but said it would move cautiously in raising interest rates. Analysts said other central banks had been less keen to tighten policy than investors had expected.

Still, the Fed on Monday warned in a closely watched report that the rally across markets could quickly reverse if there was another Covid surge or the recovery stalls, and also raised concerns about the possible impact of China’s property crisis.

All three main indexes in New York hit record highs for the second day in a row helped by news that US lawmakers had passed President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure overhaul, and as the country reopened to vaccinated visitors from more than 30 countries.

That all came on top of a strong earnings season and after Pfizer’s announcement that a pill to treat Covid had proved to be hugely effective, putting the world another step closer to overcoming the disease.


Cryptocurrencies Surge

Markets analyst Louis Navellier said he was very upbeat about the outlook. “I think that at the end of January, we’re going to be 18% to 20% higher than we are today,” he said in a note. “That’s a bold statement. But we’ve got a lot of earnings coming out, seasonal strength and an accommodative Fed.”

Asia, which struggled on Monday, mostly managed to follow Wall Street’s lead. Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, Wellington, Taipei, Manila, Bangkok and Jakarta all rose, though Tokyo, Sydney, Mumbai and Singapore edged down.

London and Paris were down in early trade, while Frankfurt rose.

Bitcoin hit a new record of $68,513 as the combined value of all cryptocurrencies topped $3 trillion, according to data provider CoinGecko.

“This breakout in bitcoin might signal the start of a final push-up for the fourth quarter before the crypto market shows more pronounced consolidation into next year,” Fundstrat said in a technical-strategy report on Monday.

“Strength in bitcoin, ethereum and many other altcoins looks likely in the weeks to come.”



Biden’s Fed decision

Still, the spectre of inflation continues to loom large, with prices at multi-year highs owing to supply chain snarls, surging energy costs and a pick-up in demand as the economy returns to normal.

While the Fed has said it will be careful in hiking borrowing costs, Vice-Chair Richard Clarida said the economy could be ready for a lift by the end of next year.

“While we are clearly a ways away from considering raising interest rates,” he said he believed the “necessary conditions for raising the target range for the federal funds rate will have been met by year-end 2022.”

However, other top Fed officials took a more dovish view on the outlook and the timing of a rate lift-off.

“So, the conclusion is that just like the market, Fed officials are not 100% sure how inflation dynamics will play out,” Rodrigo Catril at National Australia Bank said.

“If price pressures remain elevated, then next year the Fed will be forced to lean against them even if the maximum employment has not yet been reached.”

Eyes are now on the release of US inflation data on Tuesday and Wednesday for a fresh idea about the bank’s plans.

Traders are also keeping tabs on Biden’s plans for the Fed’s leadership with reports saying he had interviewed governor Lael Brainard, who is seen as more dovish on policy, for the top job.

The president is expected to soon decide on whether to replace head Jerome Powell when his current term ends early next year.


Key figures around 0820 GMT

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.8% at 29,285.46 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: UP 0.2% at 24,813.13 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.2% at 3,507.00 (close)

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.2% at 7285.76


• AFP with additional editing by Jim Pollard



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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


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