Nikkei new record, Chinese New Year


Bitcoin rises above $45,000, its highest level in almost a month

Bitcoin related stocks surged on Thursday as the price of the flagship cryptocurrency rose 3% to its highest level in almost a month.

Shares of crypto exchange Coinbase jumped about 8%, while bitcoin proxy Microstrategy added 15%. In the mining group, CleanSpark rose 12%, Riot Platforms advanced 15%, while Marathon Digital gained 22% and Iris Energy surged 22%.

Traders also point out that bitcoin accumulation by large investors, known as “whales,” has increased in the past two weeks, when the cryptocurrency’s price has been stuck below December and January highs. Bitcoin has a strong setup for 2024 thanks to the introduction of spot bitcoin ETFs as well as the upcoming halving and expectations of rate cuts later this year.

— Tanaya Macheel

Oil rises for fourth day after Israel rejects Hamas ceasefire proposal

Crude oil futures prices rose for the fourth day in a row afte Israel rejected a ceasefire proposal by Hamas.

The West Texas Intermediate futures contract added $2.14, or 2.90%, to trade at $75.98 a barrel. The Brent contract for April gained $2.16, or 2.73%, to trade at $81.37 a barrel.

U.S. crude and the global benchmark are up 2.94% and 3.42% respectively for the week as the Middle East teeters between another round of violent escalation and a possible truce in the Gaza war.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is on a diplomatic tour of the region this week in an effort to secure an extended humanitarian pause in Gaza in exchange for the release of hostages by Hamas.

Blinken met Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday to discuss a counterproposal by Hamas that demands a permanent end to the fighting.

Netanyahu rejected the Hamas’ proposal, vowing to press on to the southern city of Rafah on the border with Egypt and achieve “total victory” in Gaza.

— Spencer Kimball

Fed’s Barkin the latest to advise patience on rate cuts

Richmond Federal Reserve President Thomas Barkin joined the chorus of cautious central bankers, saying in a speech Wednesday that the fight against inflation isn’t over yet.

Speaking to the Economic Club of New York, Barkin noted the progress against higher prices, but warned that “the plane has not landed yet.”

“So, it’s possible that we will return to the pre-pandemic economy pretty seamlessly. It is also possible that the landing might be somewhat bumpier, with continued inflation pressure or demand challenges that we will need to counteract,” he said in prepared remarks. “That’s why I think it is smart for us to take our time.”

Worries include a changing labor market with higher wage pressures, a housing market were prices are elevated because of a dearth of supply, and the trend of deglobalization after snagged supply chains in the early days of the Covid pandemic helped generate the rise in inflation to hits highest level in more than 40 years.

There’s also a history of the Fed letting up too soon during earlier cycles.

“The Fed is committed to returning inflation all the way to 2 percent. As I think about that commitment, I can’t help but look to lessons from the past. History tells many stories of inflation head-fakes,” added Barkin, who is a voting member this year of the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee.

—Jeff Cox


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