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5 Things You Need to Know Today in Asia

OPEC extension is a “sell the news” event, bitcoin keeps surging, and a fresh record for U.S. stocks. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about.


No Shock and Awe

As expected, OPEC and other major oil producers reached an agreement to extend their production curbs through March 2018 in a bid to normalize global inventories. West Texas Intermediate futures, which had been rallying in recent weeks in anticipation of a deal, sold off hard, slumping below $49 per barrel as of 5:30 a.m.Tokyo time. The Canadian dollar and Norwegian krone — the two G10 petrocurrencies — were the weakest of the group on the day.

Bitcoin Going Berserk

Another day, another record high for bitcoin. The digital currency’s gains in 2017 topped 160 percent after an agreement from 50 companies looking to upgrade the speed of processing transactions. The value of other digital currencies is also rising at a parabolic clip, as some industry executives suggest that bitcoin has safe haven appeal within the space. Companies are looking to ride the wave of interest in cryptocurrencies, with Kik Interactive announcing plans for an “initial coin offering. That is, the messaging app company will sell tokens that can be used to buy services on its platform. John McAfee, the eclectic anti-virus software creator turned chief executive of MGT Capital Investments Inc., says bitcoin mining will help turn the company into a profitable business.

More New Highs

U.S. stocks closed at fresh records amid encouraging quarterly results from retailers like Best Buy and PVH Corp., giving a boost to a segment of the market that’s been unloved as of late. The U.S. dollar was the best-performing G10 currency on Thursday, with 10-year Treasury yields also rising modestly. Despite growing confidence that the Federal Reserve will follow through on its tightening plans for 2017, Wall Street sees U.S. government borrowing costs staying subdued.

Futures Mixed

S&P/ASX 200 and Nikkei 225 equity futures were little changed as of 5:30 a.m. Tokyo time, with the former marginally in the red and the latter slightly higher. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index ended its losing streak at two on Thursday with South Korean and Chinese equities leading the way higher. The outperformance of financial shares on the Shanghai Composite Index fueled rumors that state-backed funds helped fuel that market’s gains.

Coming Up…

The headline event on the Asia Pacific economic calendar on Friday will be the release of Japanese inflation data at 8:30 a.m. National headline and core inflation are expected to pick up to 0.4 percent in April from 0.2 percent. Likewise, May’s reading of headline and core inflation in Tokyo is forecast to come in flat on an annual basis from a 0.1 percent year-on-year retreat in the prior reading. Also due out: the final reading of Taiwan’s first-quarter GDP growth and April’s reading of industrial production in Singapore. South Korean consumer confidence rose to 108 in May from 101.2.

Sent by Bloomberg

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