Asian Stocks Rise, Bitcoin Remains Volatile

Asia-Pacific stocks were poised to end the week modestly higher in muted trading ahead of the holidays, while volatility returned to bitcoin as the cryptocurrency fell 15% before paring some of its losses.

Bitcoin slumped to $13,200 from $15,800 in barely three hours in morning Asia trade, according to CoinDesk. Bitcoin was recently trading around $14,800.

Equities in the region saw broad strength following an overnight rebound in European stocks and mild gains on Wall Street.

South Korea–one of Asia’s worst performers Thursday–notched gains on Friday. The Kospi index was recently up 0.4% after four-straight declines, with Samsung Electronics climbing 1.3%.

New Zealand’s stock benchmark closed up 0.4% in a half-day of trading, finishing just short of another record closing high.

India’s Sensex rose 0.5% in early trading, putting it on pace for its best-ever finish.

Many investors expect gains in Asian stocks to carry on through the year-end holidays.

“It’s hard to imagine equities not being held up going into December-end due to a bit of year-end portfolio fluffing,” said Tim Kelleher, head of foreign exchange institutional sales at ASB Bank in New Zealand. “We’re going to have a pretty good December on equities.”

Capital Economics, however, doesn’t think 2018 will be as good a year for risky assets as 2017 has been with earnings unlikely to surge and monetary policy poised to become a little less supportive.

Furthermore, “while political developments are even harder to predict, the boosts from the prospects of U.S. tax cuts and the fading of protectionism fears were probably one-offs,” it added.

The euro, which slid in morning Asian trading after Catalonia’s separatist parties won a majority in their regional assembly, strengthened to around $1.1850 from earlier lows of $1.1815.

Oil prices pulled back: Both the global and U.S. crude benchmarks were down 0.3%.

Source: Dow Jones