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Moving markets: Five things shaping the FTSE 100 today

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Moving Markets Today: U.S. Stocks Close Mixed, Asia Markets See Modest Gains; Bitcoin Hits $50,000, Oil Prices Stable; Focus on UK Labour Market Data and U.S. Inflation

Stocks in the U.S. saw a decline from their recent record highs as investors awaited the release of official U.S. inflation data. In contrast, Asian stocks experienced slight gains, albeit with China’s financial markets closed for the Lunar New Year holiday until February 19th, and Hong Kong markets reopening on February 14th. With limited trading activity in Asia, investors looked to Wall Street for cues. Bitcoin surpassed the $50,000 mark for the first time in over two years. Oil prices remained stable, with concerns about demand offsetting risks in the Middle East. Investors are closely watching for updates on UK labour market data and U.S. inflation figures for potential market impacts. Here are five key takeaways for your day.

Bitcoin Breaks $50K Barrier After Over Two Years

Bitcoin traded above $50,000 for the first time in over two years, boosted by inflows into digital asset-backed exchange-traded funds. The cryptocurrency also benefited from anticipated interest rate cuts and recent U.S. regulatory approval for ETFs tracking its price. In Asian trading hours, Bitcoin was last seen at $50,0097. The primary cryptocurrency of the industry has increased by nearly 15% since the beginning of the year. Ether, the second-largest cryptocurrency, rose 4.12% to $2,607.57.

Nvidia Temporarily Jumps Ahead of Amazon in Market Value Amid AI Buzz

Nvidia experienced a momentary rise in market capitalization, briefly surpassing Amazon.com Inc, driven by the widespread excitement surrounding artificial intelligence. This surge propelled Nvidia to become the fourth most valuable U.S. company. Reaching a record high of $734.96, Nvidia’s market value peaked at $1.82 trillion, narrowly trailing behind Google-owner Alphabet at $1.87 trillion, while Amazon.com stood at $1.81 trillion, Reuters reported. This marked the first instance since 2002 that Nvidia outpaced Amazon in value, a time when both companies were valued at under $6 billion.

Bank of England’s Bailey Downplays Significance of Potential UK Recession

Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey downplayed the significance of the upcoming official data set to reveal whether the economy contracted in the final quarter of the previous year, possibly triggering a minor ‘technical’ recession, Reuters reported. During a Q&A session after delivering a lecture at Loughborough University in central England, Bailey stated that he wouldn’t emphasize this too much. He explained that even if there were two consecutive negative quarters, the recession would likely be shallow. Instead, Bailey suggested paying more attention to the indicators showing signs of improvement since then.

What’s Coming Up

This week promises a flurry of economic data releases across various regions. The UK will unveil its labour market statistics, covering employment changes, the ILO unemployment rate and claimant count changes later in the day. In the US, all eyes are on the update regarding the consumer price index (CPI) scheduled to be released on Tuesday. Anticipated releases include the US producer price index (PPI), retail sales, and industrial production figures.

Additionally, Japan and the European Union will disclose their initial estimates for fourth-quarter GDP growth, while the UK is gearing up to release its estimates for Q4 GDP, CPI inflation, and retail sales data. Germany will also publish its latest ZEW report. Exclusive insights from central bank speakers will be available to Premium subscribers, and earnings reports from British utilities, European banks, and US consumer goods manufacturers will unfold throughout the week.

Asia Stocks Inch Upward; Oil Prices Hold Steady

While the S&P 500 closed slightly lower at 5,022.49 points and the Nasdaq Composite slipped to 15,947.92, the Dow Jones Industrial Average managed to rise to 38,807.45. Notably, smaller companies saw a significant surge, with the Russell 2000 index climbing 1.9%. Diamondback Energy stood out with a remarkable 9.4% jump, driving the energy sector to lead among the S&P 500 sectors, following its announcement of a major acquisition in the oil and gas industry. In Asia-Pacific markets, MSCI’s broadest index, excluding Japan, saw a modest uptick early on, despite having experienced a 3% decline so far in the year. However, Japan’s Nikkei 225 continued its upward trajectory from the previous year, posting a 12% increase for the year. On Tuesday, the index hit a fresh 34-year high, supported by a weakening yen nearing the significant 150 per dollar level. The yield on 10-year Treasury notes held steady at 4.172%, while the dollar index remained unchanged at 104.16. The Japanese yen, sensitive to U.S. rates, hovered around 149.38 per dollar, approaching the closely monitored 150 level, which could prompt intervention from Japanese officials to strengthen the currency.

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