FTSE attempting to break higher; Bitcoin crashes
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The FTSE 100 has made another attempt at moving higher this morning with the market posting a fresh all-time peak above 7600. Thursday saw both an intra-day and closing record posted for the leading UK stock benchmark and a weekly close above 7600 would further support the break higher. Bitcoin is also in the headlines after the cryptocurrency crashed overnight and fell below the 13000 level.
UK GDP beats forecasts
The UK economy grew faster than expected in the third quarter in year-on-year terms with the ONS estimating a 1.7% increase compared to a prior estimate of 1.5%. Whilst this seems a positive development on the face of it the pace of economic growth still lags its peers across the Atlantic and on the Continent and the UK remains a laggard in the global growth stakes. There was small move higher seen in Sterling following the release but these gains have since been pared and the Pound looks set to end a fairly quiet week little changed on the whole.
Bitcoin tumbles overnight
There was some widespread selling in Bitcoin during the Asian session with the cryptocurrency falling below the 13000 level and marking a decline in excess of 30% in the past 5 days. The market remains extremely volatile with the latest correction being the 5th time this year that price has crashed by more than 30%. Having said that, 2017 remains a year of remarkable gains for Bitcoin and even a drop of 95% from Sunday’s record peak would see price remain higher on the year. There is no real fundamental reason behind the latest decline, although there is growing speculation that some of the largest holders of Bitcoin may be following in the steps of Charlie Lee, the Litecoin founder who stated earlier this week that he had sold his entire holding in the alt-coin.
The end of the beginning or the beginning of the end?
The Crypto markets now face another major test of their durability with the drop testing the mettle of Bulls. When a market continues to surge at a parabolic rate it is not so difficult to sit back and watch the profits on paper rise but when a market loses more than a third of its value in no time at all it is much more challenging to stay long. The ultimate question is whether speculators retain their ardent belief in the market when price is falling as if they decide to exit in mass the fragile infrastructure of exchanges could exacerbate the moves and it would not be entirely surprising to look back on this week’s decline as the beginning of the end for Bitcoin.
Catalan independence push supported at the polls
Thursday could mark a historic day for Catalonia with the regional elections returned an absolute majority for pro-independence parties. The result deepens the long running constitutional crisis between Spain and its most affluent region and whilst there remains someway to go before independence, yesterday represents a bad defeat for PM Rajoy and the central government. Three separatist parties won 70 seats in the 135-seat assembly but it should be noted that an anti-independence party remains the single largest and the popular vote also failed to support separation. As you would expect Spanish stocks have reacted negatively to the latest developments with the IBEX35 falling more than 200 points shortly after the open with banking shares in particular being hit.
Tensions rise ahead of El Clasico
The tensions between Madrid and Barcelona will be on display to hundreds of million tomorrow with the first El Clasico of the Spanish football league season seeing Real Madrid travel to the home of their biggest rivals in a fixture that is well known for its hostility, arguably most evident when former Barcelona player Luis Figo had a Pig’s head thrown at him upon his return to the Camp Nou. As football fans around the globe sit back to see Messi and Ronaldo go head-to-head once more, political spectators will be left wondering how PM Rajoy has made such a pig’s ear of a situation that has quickly gone from simmering below the surface to boiling over.
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