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Stock Futures Steady, Bitcoin Hash Rate Recovers


13 December 2021 Written by Naeem Aslam  AvaTrade Chief Market Analyst Naeem Aslam

Beijing conducted its biggest crackdown on cryptocurrencies this year, forcing the largest migration of crypto miners from China to the United States. Investors should be aware that hash rate is a measure of the computing power consumed by miners on the Bitcoin network. When the ban on crypto mining was imposed by Chinese officials, the hash rate dropped nearly 50%, and hence the blockchain space took a huge hit. However, at that time, no one could project that Bitcoin mining would recover in merely five months. Previously, mining in China constituted between 65% and 75% of global mining. Miners have been successful in swiftly shifting their operations to North America.

The most important lesson to be taken from this development is that the future outlook of digital coins remains positive, as can be seen from the blockchain space not only surviving but rather thriving even after facing its biggest stress test.

Gold

The rise in inflation supported gold prices on Friday as the yellow metal is considered to be a safe haven commodity which investors use to hedge against inflation in times of uncertainty. However, the central bank meetings scheduled to be held this week are likely to be big drivers for the precious metal. The Fed is expected to tighten its monetary policy, which will likely mean that the American central bank will hike its policy rate sooner than initially expected as well. Thus, because gold is a non-interest-bearing asset, the opportunity cost of holding the precious metal will rise, making it less attractive to investors.

Stock Market Today

Futures in the US are up, while those in Europe are down after the S&P 500 rose to new highs, achieving its greatest weekly performance since February. Major stock market indices have been extremely volatile in recent weeks as investors attempted to comprehend implications of the newly discovered Omicron variant, as well as a more hawkish Fed. Concerns about the new strain of cases are quickly dissipating, as booster shots of vaccines are likely to provide adequate protection for Americans, and cases appear to be mild. This development boosted investor confidence and helped stock markets recover, despite the fact that inflation came in blazing hot on Friday.

In Friday’s session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.60%, while the S&P 500 index jumped 0.95%. The Nasdaq, the tech-savvy index, surged 0.73% while the Russell 2000 dipped 0.38%.

This week, investors will be closely watching meetings of central banks around the world, including those of the Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, and the European Central Bank. These meetings are very important because their monetary policies are major factors influencing global economic recovery and may cause waves of volatility in stock markets.

Stock Market

Broadly speaking, investors are upbeat and are betting on the U.S. economy flourishing over the next few months, as can clearly be seen from Friday’s price action, which was positive even after inflation came in at its highest in four decades. Consumer prices surged 6.8% last month, while the expected number was 6.7%. Inflation is expected to remain high and persistent, but as we move along, base effects and supply chain bottlenecks are likely to ease down. Investors should note that the inflation reading further supports the Federal Reserve’s view of speeding up winding down its quantitative easing measures implemented because of the coronavirus pandemic. According to the Fed, strong economic recovery and strength in the labour market support the notion that the American economy can now sustain itself without additional support, which makes this a good time to control rising consumer prices. Initially, the completion date for tapering was set for June 2022. Stock traders should keep a close eye on the Fed’s monetary policy meeting this week for more information on the extent to which the Fed will accelerate tapering.

On the other hand, investors should keep in mind that coronavirus cases are continuing to surge in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other European countries. Yesterday, COVID-19 caused nearly 800,000 deaths in the United States, forcing some governments to tighten restrictions in an attempt to stop the spread of infections. Having said that, Pfizer and BioNTech announced that, based on new findings, three jabs of their vaccines are likely to provide effective protection against the Omicron variant.

Oil

Investors are currently witnessing a retracement in oil prices after they took a huge beating after news of the Omicron variant flooded the markets. Investors were worried regarding the future outlook of oil demand, which could have declined if infections had been deadly. However, that is not the case because of which oil prices jumped 8% last week.

Moving onwards, the main drivers of oil prices are likely to be the release of crude oil from American strategic reserves and the strategy being adopted by OPEC+ in coming months. According to reports, the U.S. is ready to release 18 million barrels on December 17, while the oil cartel, OPEC+, is expected to stick to its initial plan of slowly raising its monthly oil output by 400,000 barrels per day.

Forex

Investors should understand that the next seven days are extremely important for major currencies around the world as central banks get ready to communicate their monetary policies for coming months. The US dollar is likely to rise as the Fed’s interest rates are expected to rise sooner than anticipated. When a country’s interest rate rises, the demand for that nation’s legal tender also increases as more and more investors look to save in that country.

Because of rising coronavirus cases, the Bank of England is likely to keep its monetary policy supportive. As a result, the pound has been declining over the last few days. Similarly, the European Central Bank is also likely to maintain its dovish stance as economic growth in Europe has been slowing down due to supply chain constraints and COVID-19 infections. This is why it is very unlikely for the euro to see significant gains this week.

Asian Pacific Markets

The strategy to be used by Beijing in 2022 is likely to be mostly accommodative as the Chinese government is working to fuel the country’s growth and stabilise its economy. Although regulatory crackdowns on Chinese businesses are expected to decline, regulations on real estate are likely to stay. As of 12.00 a.m. EST, the Nikkei jumped 0.91% and the Shanghai index rose 1.00%. The Hang Seng index, in Hong Kong, hopped 1.01%. The ASX 200 index surged 0.59%, and the Seoul Kospi climbed 0.35%.

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