Bitcoin extends sharp tumble as investors spooked by fears of regulation

The price of bitcoin, the world’s biggest and best-known cryptocurrency, fell to as low as $10,567 on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange. (Reuters)
Updated 17 January 2018
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Bitcoin extends sharp tumble as investors spooked by fears of regulation

TOKYO/SINGAPORE: Bitcoin extended its sharp tumble of the past 24 hours, skidding more than seven percent on Wednesday in a rapid downturn in fortunes as investors were spooked by fears regulators might clamp down on an asset whose value has skyrocketed in the past year.
The price of the world’s biggest and best-known cryptocurrency fell to as low as $10,567 on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange, not far from its six-week nadir of $10,162 touched the previous day. The session’s high was $11,794.07.
It led the fall in cryptocurrencies, although others such as Ethereum and Ripple, have also slid sharply this week after reports South Korea and China could ban trading, sparking worries of a wider regulatory crackdown.
“Cryptocurrencies could be capped in the current quarter ahead of G20 meeting in March, where policymakers could discuss tighter regulations,” said Shuhei Fujise, chief analyst at Alt Design.
At its lows on Tuesday, Bitcoin had fallen 25 percent in the session, its biggest daily decline in four months. It was a far cry from its peak close to $20,000 in December, when the virtual currency had risen nearly 2000 percent over the year.
Tuesday’s decline followed reports that South Korea’s finance minister had said banning trading in cryptocurrencies was still an option and that the government plans a set of measures to clamp down on the “irrational” cryptocurrency investment craze.
Separately, a senior Chinese central banker said authorities should ban centralized trading of virtual currencies as well as individuals and businesses that provide related services.
“Bitcoin is deciding whether this is the moment to crash and burn,” said Steven Englander, head of strategy at New York-based Rafiki Capital.
“My conjecture is that cryptocurrency holders are trying to decide whether to abandon Bitcoin because its limitations mean it will be superseded by better products or bet that it can thrive despite them.”
Bitcoin futures maturing on Wednesday on the Cboe Global Markets Inc’s Cboe Futures Exchange were at $10,740, with 1,586 contracts traded, after having opened at $10,850. The open interest was 2,895 contracts. The Cboe 14 March 2018 contract was quoted at $11,130.
The futures are cash-settled contracts based on the auction price of bitcoin in US dollars on the Gemini Exchange, which is owned and operated by virtual currency entrepreneurs Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss.
The MVIS CryptoCompare Ripple Index, which covers the performance of a digital assets portfolio which invests in Ripple (XRP), a cryptocurrency developed by Ripple Labs, dropped 15 percent to $7,298 on Wednesday.
That equity index has seen a 66 percent slide in its value since the start of the year. Ripple itself was quoted at $1.15 on website CoinMarketCap, down from a high of $3.81 on January 4.
“The run-up in Bitcoin created a mystique of one-way trading which is being shaken but the pricing requires faith that there will always be demand,” Englander wrote.
“This is far from guaranteed given the existence of alternatives with better characteristics.”


Pakistani central bank lifts interest rate as inflation bites

Updated 20 May 2019
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Pakistani central bank lifts interest rate as inflation bites

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s central bank raised its key interest rate to 12.25% on Monday, warning that already soaring inflation risked further rises on the back of higher oil prices and reforms required for a bailout from the International Monetary Fund.
The 150 basis points increase follows a preliminary agreement last week with the IMF for a $6 billion loan that is expected to come with tough conditions, including raising more tax revenues and putting up gas and power prices. It was the eighth time the central bank has increased its main policy rate since the start of last year.
With economic growth set to slow to 2.9% this year from 5.2% last year, according to IMF forecasts, the rate rise adds to pressure on Prime Minister Imran Khan, who came to power last year facing a balance of payments crisis that has now forced his government to turn to the IMF.
Higher prices for basic essentials including food and energy has already stirred public anger but the central bank suggested there was little prospect of any immediate improvement.
Noting average headline inflation rose to 7% in the July-April period from 3.8 percent a year earlier, the central bank said recent rises in domestic oil prices and the cost of food suggested that “inflationary pressures are likely to continue for some time.”

 

It said it expected headline inflation to average between 6.5% and 7.5% for the financial year to the end of June and was expected to be “considerably higher” in the coming year. Expected tax measures in next month’s budget as well as higher gas and power prices and volatility in international oil prices could push inflation up further, it said.
It said the fiscal deficit, which the IMF expects to reach 7.2% of gross domestic product (GDP) this year, was likely to have been “considerably higher” during the July-March period than in the same period a year earlier due to shortfalls in revenue collection, higher interest payments and security costs.
Despite some improvements, financing the current account deficit remained “challenging” and foreign exchange reserves of $8.8 billion were below standard adequacy levels at less than the equivalent of three months of imports.
The central bank said it was watching foreign exchange markets closely and was prepared to take action to curb “unwarranted” volatility, after the sharp fall in the rupee over recent days that saw the currency touch a record low of 150 against the US dollar.
Details of what Pakistan will be required to do under the IMF agreement, which must still be approved by the Fund’s board, have not been announced but already opposition parties are planning protests.
As well as higher energy prices that will hit households hard, there are also expectations of new taxes and spending cuts in next month’s budget to reach a primary budget deficit — excluding interest payments — of 0.6% of GDP.
With the IMF forecasting a primary deficit of 2.2% for the coming financial year, that implies squeezing roughly $5 billion in extra revenues from Pakistan’s $315 billion economy, which has long suffered from problems raising tax revenue.

FACTOID

Pakistan’s economic growth is set to slow to 2.9% this year.