World Economy

Asian Shares Waver as US Tax Bill Passes Senate

Asian Shares Waver as US Tax Bill Passes SenateAsian Shares Waver as US Tax Bill Passes Senate

Asian shares bobbed lower in a choppy session on Wednesday, hobbled by Wall Street’s losses as the long-awaited US tax reform bill wound its way through Congress, while higher treasury yields underpinned the dollar.

The Republican-led US Senate approved the sweeping $1.5-trillion tax bill in the small hours of Wednesday morning. A re-vote by the house of representatives was scheduled for later in the day, with approval expected, and the bill will then go to President Donald Trump to sign into law, AP reported.

Asian market reaction to the passage was muted, with S&P e-mini futures edging slightly higher, up 0.2%.

European stock futures were up 0.1%, portending a slightly firmer opening for the region, with DAX futures up 0.2%, CAC futures up 0.1% and FTSE futures 0.1% lower.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down slightly in afternoon trade, while Japan’s Nikkei stock index finished up 0.1%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.15%, the S&P 500 lost 0.32%, and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.44%.

Meanwhile, Bitcoin prices plunged about 15% in Asian trade Wednesday before recouping some of the losses as investors apparently took fright at news that a South Korean exchange had been hacked.

The unit, which hit a record $19,500 at the start of the week, took a hit as it emerged that South Korean exchange Youbit had been hacked, leading the firm to say it will close and start bankruptcy proceedings, according to Bloomberg News.

Separately, US authorities on Tuesday suspended trading in a popular Bitcoin-related stock, citing concerns about market manipulation.

The Crypto Company’s share price had risen 1,700% between the end of September and Monday evening before the Securities Exchange Commission intervened to halt trades until January 4.

“Both the news of South Korea’s exchange having been hacked and position adjustment following recent rallies affected the market today,” Raita Yamaguchi, senior consultant at Nomura Research Institute, told AFP.

However, “the weight of South Korea as a Bitcoin market is not that big,” he added.

US crude oil futures extended gains, helped by a North Sea pipeline outage, OPEC-led supply cuts and expectations that US crude inventories had fallen for a fifth week.

US crude was up 0.3%, or 16 cents, at $57.72 a barrel, after settling up 0.5% on Tuesday. Brent crude was 0.1% higher, adding 13 cents to $63.88 after gaining 0.6% overnight.

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