bitcoin: Markets, oil drop in Asia but bitcoin targets $50,000

HONG KONG: Markets fell in Asia on Friday in holiday-thinned trade with investors awaiting developments in US stimulus talks, while bitcoin hit a new record as it crept towards $50,000.
prices also retreated from their 13-month highs after investors were given a reality check on expectations for demand this year, despite expectations the global economy will see a strong recovery.

Equities across the planet have rallied this year on the back of vaccine rollouts, falling infection and death rates, and optimism Joe Biden will push through most of his $1.9 trillion rescue package.

Hopes for his spending deal were given a boost Thursday by news that first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell less than estimated last week.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq hit new records again, though the Dow was marginally lower.

With most of Asia closed for the Lunar New Year holiday, business was limited. Tokyo, Sydney and Wellington were all in the red.

But Axi’s strategist Stephen Innes said: “With vaccination rollouts on turbo boost and the current lockdown abatement doing what it is supposed to do by taming the virus spread, there is a solid chance that reported Covid-19 cases could shift close to zero in the second quarter.”

He added that Biden’s fiscal package and a planned infrastructure programme that is in the works would provide a “double lift off. As a result, the economic mood music should attune higher in March, and the recovery could be set to surge in the second quarter.”

Bitcoin continued to hit new highs, peaking at $48,930 Friday, having been given another boost after MasterCard and US bank BNY Mellon moved to make it easier for people to use the cryptocurrency.

That came days after Tesla announced it had bought $1.5 billion in Bitcoin and would soon accept it in payment.

However, there was a warning from a former top US regulator about buying into the unit.