World Economy

Asia Markets Enjoy Pre-Xmas Optimism

Singapore Stock Exchange
Singapore Stock Exchange

Most Asian markets on Friday saw in the Christmas break a positive note, picking up the baton from Wall Street while the euro stood firm against a sell-off despite a victory for Catalan separatists in a snap poll. Global equities rallied over the past year on hopes Donald Trump’s key election promise to cut taxes would boost corporate profits and put money in people’s pockets, but traders cashed in their profits soon after the bill was passed this week, AFP reported.

However, buying perked up again on Thursday on bets that the tax reform would further fire the already healthy US economy, while there was also cheer for news that lawmakers had agreed a deal to avert a painful government shutdown.

A day after the passage of the US tax bill through the house and senate, US gains extended into Asia with Hong Kong up 0.7%, Sydney adding 0.2% and Singapore putting on 0.3%. Tokyo’s Nikkei closed 0.2% higher, while Seoul, Wellington, Taipei and Jakarta were also stronger. But Shanghai dipped 0.1%. The S&P ASX 200 in Australia gained 0.2% to 6,071.20. Shares in Southeast Asia were mixed.

On currency markets, the euro edged down but held its own after Catalan separatists won the crucial election on Thursday, fuelling fresh uncertainty in Spain, one of the eurozone’s biggest economies. Bitcoin sank 20% to briefly sit just above $12,000 for the first time since December 7, hit by profit-taking. The volatile cryptocurrency kicked the week off with a bang, hitting $19,500 as it extended its astonishing rise but it has suffered a significant correction this week, losing a third of its value since its Monday high.

Investors are having a “reality check”, Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trading at OANDA, said. “At the heart of the matter was a frenzied demand for coins with limited supply has now led to unsophisticated investors holding the bag at the top.”

At its height, Bitcoin had soared almost 30-fold since the start of the year and has moved into the mainstream as two major US exchanges began trading futures in the unit.


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