As of Sat, Feb 16, Singapore Time zone UTC+8
USDJPY, +0.01%, $110.50
EURUSD, -0.05%, $1.1295
GBPUSD, +0.65%, $1.2896
USDCAD, -0.41%, $1.3241
AUDUSD, +0.57%, $0.7146
NZDUSD, +0.42%, $0.6866
S&P500, +1.09%, 2,775.60
Nasdaq, +0.61%, 7,472.41
Nikkei Futures, -1.37%, 20,900.0
CURRENCY MARKET WRAP
- The University of Michigan’s preliminary index of consumer sentiment for February increased to 95.5 (consensus 93.3) from the final reading of 91.2 for January, as attitudes improved with the end of the partial government shutdown and the Fed hitting the pause button on its interest rate hikes.The key takeaway from the report is the indication that consumers’ long-term inflation expectations fell to the lowest level recorded in the past half century, which is a vantage point that is certain to register in the Fed’s willingness to be patient with its policy approach.
- A week-long round of trade negotiations in Beijing came to a conclusion on Friday, although structural issues – forced technology transfers, enforcement oversight, and China subsidizing domestic industries – were unresolved. Still, investors were pleased to hear that mid-level talks are expected to continue in Washington next week. Trump expressed optimism, saying talks are going extremely well, while he continued to weigh the possibility of extending the March 1 deadline. Trump signed a bipartisan funding resolution, which included funding that was well short of the $5.7 billion requested for border security. As many thought he might, Trump declared a national emergency, setting up a likely legal battle, to secure adequate funding from other departments to build a border wall.
- U.S. Treasuries edged lower, pushing yields slightly higher. The 2-yr yield increased two basis points to 2.52%, and the 10-yr yield increased one basis point to 2.67%. The U.S. Dollar Index decreased -0.1% to 96.90. WTI crude rose 2.0% to $55.56/bbl
STOCK MARKET WRAP
- The S&P 500 gained 1.09% on Friday, as investors were relieved to hear that U.S.-China trade-talks produced some progress and that Congress passed a funding resolution to avoid another government shutdown. Friday’s advance increased the benchmark index’s weekly gain to 2.5%.
- All 11 S&P 500 sectors finished higher, led by gains in financials (+2.0%), energy (+1.6%), and health care (+1.5%). Conversely, the utilities (+0.3%) and communication services (+0.4%) sectors underperformed but still finished with modest gains.
- Shares of Newell Brands (NWL 17.16, -4.53, -20.9%) and Mattel (MAT 13.82, -3.09, -18.3%) were clobbered on Friday following disappointing guidance, both of which included weak fiscal 2019 guidance.
Major Canadian crypto exchange Coinsquare has acquired StellarX, a Stellar (XLM)-based zero-fee decentralized payment network. According to the announcement, Bermuda-based StellarX will be a fully owned subsidiary of Coinsquare and will seek regulatory approval to operate and expand its service under Coinsquare’s compliance. The new acquisition has followed Coinsquare’s recent purchase of private Stellar wallet BlockEQ in December 2018. The firm is reportedly set to be rebranded to become the anchor wallet for the StellarX platform. Originally announced in July 2018, StellarX rolled out its full operation on Sept. 28, 2018. The company positions itself as fiat onramp, as it allows users to deposit fiat money directly from their bank accounts, as well as lists digital tokens for a number of fiat currencies including the euro, Chinese yuan, Hong Kong dollar, the British pound and others.
Liechtensteinische Post AG, the country’s official postal service, plans to offer cryptocurrency exchange services at their physical locations. The postal service will allow customers to exchange their fiat to Bitcoin (BTC) in one of its offices in Vaduz, the country’s capital, starting on Feb. 15. After purchasing BTC, the customers will get a physical wallet generating public and private keys. Later, the service will likely be extended to other post offices all over the country, the announcement notes. Moreover, the postal service wants to add support for other coins, including Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Ripple (XRP). To introduce the service, Liechtenstein’s post has partnered with Värdex Suisse AG — a Swiss-based financially regulated blockchain and payment service provider. Switzerland and Liechtenstein are among the countries with the highest level of crypto adoption in the world. Liechtenstein introduced its crypto legislation in early 2018 when prime minister Adrian Hasler announced that the country will regulate blockchain business models and underlying blockchain systems.
Digital asset management fund Grayscale Investments latest crypto investment report released on Feb. 14 reveals that capital inflow from institutional investors is on the rise. For Q4 2018, Grayscale reports that institutions accounted for the majority of investments — at 66 percent. As well, investors were almost exclusively based in the United States (99 percent), although full year statistics indicate a more distributed geography, with 33 percent offshore investors to 67 percent U.S.-based. Grayscale notes that the protracted bear market has drawn clients whose perspective is long term: the high percentage of retirement accounts (40 percent) points to a multi-year investment horizon. Moreover, while dollar investments in crypto declined in Q4, Grayscale contends that institutional investors’ percentage allocation of their portfolio into the crypto sector remained roughly consistent throughout 2018. Overall, the fund notes there has been a deceleration of new inflows into crypto products quarter-over-quarter in 2018: nonetheless, with Q4 investments at $30.1 million, Grayscale products hit a value of $359.5 million for the entire year — nearly twice the inflows of the previous four years (2014-17) combined.