Global Markets Quiet; Busy Day for Bitcoin -- 2nd Update

By Kenan Machado Features Dow Jones Newswires

Bitcoin's wild swings after a morning plunge occupied center stage in Wednesday's trading session in Asia, as equities markets didn't move much amid voting on U.S. tax reform and as the coming holidays damped trading action.

Continue Reading Below

The cryptocurrency's price--which had been trading just below $19,000 Tuesday--fell $2,000 in an hour to $15,600, according to CoinDesk. It then bounced up and down in a roughly $1,000-range, and was recently around $17,000.

Analysts blamed the swings on money moving from bitcoin to an alternative cryptocurrency called Bitcoin Cash. One of the biggest exchanges, Coinbase, started trading Bitcoin Cash on Wednesday morning--but halted activity after just four minutes.

Bitcoin Cash's price surged nearly 54% to $3,380 in recent trading, according to coinmarketcap.com. It is up more than 10-fold since its debut in August.

Given the relatively wider acceptance of bitcoin, the correction is liable to attract those who have been watching its price surge over the past several weeks with both awe and disbelief, said Kay Van-Petersen, a global macro and crypto strategist at Saxo Capital Markets in Singapore.

There was much less action in Asian markets, which were tilting lower in afternoon trading.

Continue Reading Below

New Zealand's stock benchmark ended down 0.2% after being in positive territory most of the day. Australian equities similarly weakened at day's end, but were still able to again set their best finish in a decade.

Indonesian stocks slid going into the lunch break there, with the JSX ending the early session down 1.1% after four consecutive record closing highs.

Chinese equities fell after the midday pause there, reversing some of Tuesday's strong gains. Indexes there dropped more than 0.5%. "There is not a lot of liquidity flowing into these markets," said Caroline Yu Maurer, head of Greater China equities BNP Paribas Investment Partners.

Meanwhile, Malaysia's benchmark rebounded 0.7% after logging its second-largest drop of 2017 on Tuesday. Taiwan's Taiex ended up 0.4% as Apple suppliers Largan and Hon Hai both rose more than 1%.

Declines in the yen didn't boost Japanese stocks much, with the Nikkei closing up 0.1%. The dollar was recently at Yen113, versus Yen112.59 when local stock trading ended Tuesday.

But Japanese bank stocks rebounded further on fresh overnight gains in bond yields. Ten-year Treasurys had their highest yield in nine months at 2.464% in late Tuesday New York trading, and were recently at 2.453%.

After U.S. stocks pulled back Tuesday, S&P 500 futures were recently up 0.2%.

Oil futures rose modestly in Asia after an industry group estimated that U.S. crude inventories fell more last week than what is expected in a Wednesday government release. February WTI futures were up 0.3%.

Write to Kenan Machado at kenan.machado@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 20, 2017 01:43 ET (06:43 GMT)