Stocks Struggle after Bumper Week; Bitcoin Plunges

London, Jan 11 (AFP/APP): Stock markets were lower Monday after a sustained rise to record highs last week, against a backdrop of fast-rising coronavirus cases and concerns over the outlook for a swift recovery.

The cryptocurrency bitcoin plunged meanwhile to a level last seen in March. Tech shares also felt the fallout from last week’s US political upheaval after social media platforms pulled the plug on President Donald Trump.

“Investors are hitting the pause button with the relentless buying of US stocks as big-tech’s actions following the mayhem at the Capitol drags sentiment down,” commented Edward Moya at the online brokerage Oanda. “Social media platforms have taken some strong positions following the Capitol riots and that is raising expectations that when the dust settles, Congressional efforts to regulate big tech will become high on the agenda,” he noted.

Investors also recognised that “the market has gotten extremely complacent and moved too far, too fast — certainly for the week that just unfolded outside Wall Street — making it ripe for a pullback,” said Patrick O’Hare of Briefing.com. The dollar climbed, while oil prices declined, also after big gains last week. “After being bullish for several months, we are definitely becoming more cautious on the stock market up at these levels,” said Matt Maley, at Miller Tabak + Co.

The need for more help for the world’s top economy was highlighted Friday by data that showed 140,000 people lost their jobs in December — the first fall since April — as virus infections and deaths surged across the US.

Bitcoin warning

Bitcoin continued to be hugely volatile, losing 20 percent in a single day for its steepest drop since March, to $31,061.83. The cryptocurrency last week smashed record after record, at one point surging past $40,000. Britain’s financial watchdog on Monday urged caution, especially among smaller investors. The Financial Conduct Authority “is aware that some firms are offering investments in cryptoassets, or lending or investments linked to cryptoassets, that promise high returns”, it said in a statement.

“Investing in cryptoassets, or investments and lending linked to them, generally involves taking very high risks with investors’ money. “If consumers invest in these types of product, they should be prepared to lose all their money,” the FCA added.

Key figures around 1630 GMT

  • New York – Dow: DOWN 0.2 percent at 31,029.58 points
  • EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.8 percent at 3,617.55
  • London – FTSE 100: DOWN 1.1 percent at 6,798.48 (close)
  • Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.8 percent at 13,936.66 (close)
  • Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.8 percent at 5,662.43 (close)
  • Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.1 percent at 27,908.22 (close)
  • Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 1.1 percent at 3,531.50 (close)
  • Tokyo – Nikkei 225: Closed for a public holiday
  • Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2148 from $1.2219 at 2210 GMT
  • Dollar/yen: UP at 104.28 yen from 103.95 yen
  • Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3486 from $1.3560
  • Euro/pound: DOWN at 90.07 pence from 90.09 pence
  • West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.4 percent at $52.02 per barrel
  • Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.8 percent at $55.53 per barrel

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