ASX set to retreat as Wall Street drifts; Bitcoin hits $US60,000


ASX set to retreat as Wall Street drifts; Bitcoin hits $US60,000

By Stan Choe

US stocks are drifting and edging a bit lower from their all-time highs.

The S&P 500 closed 0.2 per cent lower, continuing a quiet and listless run since it set a record last week. The Dow Jones lost 0.1 per cent and the Nasdaq composite was 0.6 per cent lower a day after pulling within 0.1 per cent of its record set in 2021. The Australian sharemarket is set to fall, with futures at 7.54am AEDT pointing to a drop of 19 points, or 0.3 per cent, at the open. The ASX finished flat on Wednesday.

Sharemarkets are having a quiet week. Credit: Bloomberg

Treasury yields were also holding relatively steady in the bond market after a report said the US economy likely grew a touch slower at the end of 2023 than earlier estimated. The growth was nevertheless still solid, as the economy continues to defy expectations of a recession despite high interest rates meant to bring down inflation.

Coinbase gained 0.8 per cent to continue its strong run as Bitcoin’s price keeps rallying. New exchange-traded funds that make investing in Bitcoin easier have raised interest in the cryptocurrency, with BlackRock’s iShares Bitcoin fund alone quickly growing to $US7 billion ($10.8 billion) in assets, for example.

That has helped bitcoin’s price top $US61,000 for the first time since 2021. It’s pulling closer to its record of nearly $US69,000 after rising more than 40 per cent this year so far. It was 6 per cent higher at $US60,086 at 8.06am AEDT, according to Bitstamp.

Apple and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, were among the heaviest weights on the market. Those stocks are among a small group that has been disproportionately responsible for the S&P 500’s run to records, which is often a concerning signal, according to Scott Wren, senior global market strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute. Broad gains among a wide variety of stocks are typically a more favourable sign that strength can continue.

Bumble tumbled 14.8 per cent after it reported weaker results for the latest quarter than analysts expected. The dating and friend-making app company, which recently revamped its leadership team, also gave a forecast for revenue this upcoming year that fell short of analysts’.

Boston Beer, the company behind Samuel Adams, slid 15.7 per cent after reporting a larger loss than analysts expected. It was hurt by declines for its Truly seltzer.

Urban Outfitters dropped 12.8 per cent after the retailer reported weaker results than expected. The company, which also runs Anthropologie stores, said sales are continuing to weaken at its Urban Outfitters locations.

Helping to limit the market’s losses was eBay, which rose 8.3 per cent after reporting stronger results than analysts expected. Agilent Technologies was another strong force pushing upward on the S&P 500, rising 3.4 per cent after beating forecasts for both profit and revenue.

Bitcoin hit $US61,000 for the first time since 2021.

Bitcoin hit $US61,000 for the first time since 2021.Credit: Getty

Beyond Meat soared 30.7 per cent even though it reported much weaker results for the latest quarter than expected. Its revenue was slightly better than forecast after falling less than expected, and it said its profitability will likely increase through 2024.

Axon Enterprise, the company that makes Tasers, body cameras and other equipment, also turned in a better-than-expected profit report, and its stock gained 13.8 per cent. It’s also forecasting growth in revenue of up to 24 per cent this year.

In stock markets abroad, indexes fell across much of Asia and Europe.

Stocks fell 1.9 per cent in Shanghai and 1.5 per cent in Hong Kong. China’s largest private property developer, Country Garden, said Wednesday it’s facing a liquidation petition after failing to repay a term loan facility worth 1.6 billion Hong Kong dollars ($US204.5 million). The first hearing in the case is scheduled for May 17.

The move comes after China Evergrande, the world’s most heavily indebted real estate developer, was ordered to undergo liquidation following a failed effort to restructure $USUS300 billion in late January.


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