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ADP, Hong Kong’s Omicron Scare, Bitcoin $100k? – What’s Moving Markets

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By Geoffrey Smith — ADP (NASDAQ:ADP) continues the string of important U.S. labour market data releases. Hong Kong takes fright at the spread of Omicron-variant Covid-19, slamming down restrictions on flying and on eating out. Violent protests rock Kazakhstan and Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) tells its clients that Bitcoin could hit $100k this year – but there’s a big ‘if’ attached. Here’s what you need to know in financial markets on Wednesday, 5th January.

1. ADP job report due

The second of the week’s big labour market releases comes in at 8:15 AM ET (1315 GMT) as payrolls processor ADP publishes its estimate of how many jobs were created in the private sector in the month through mid-December.

Analysts expect a gain of 400,000 jobs, which would be a clear slowdown from the 534,000 recorded in November and the lowest in four months, but still a reasonably strong month on a longer-term historical comparison.

The data come a day after ISM’s monthly survey indicated that hiring dynamics in manufacturing are still strong, while the Labor Department’s JOLTS survey showed vacancies continue to run near record levels, prompting more and more people to quit their jobs in search of better pay.  

The labour market updates continue with jobless claims data on Thursday and the official labour market report on Friday.

2. Hong Kong tightens curbs as Omicron spreads

The Chinese dimension of Omicron risk was in evidence overnight as Hong Kong suspended restaurant dining and closed its airports to arrivals from North America, Australia, the U.K. and India.

Case rates in Hong Kong have been rising rapidly, and sit uncomfortably with mainland China’s zero-tolerance policy for Covid-19, which has already forced a number of local lockdowns in recent weeks. A city of over 1 million inhabitants was locked down earlier in the week on the basis of only three cases of Omicron, all of them asymptomatic.

Elsewhere, Germany’s Health Minister said that tighter curbs on activity look unavoidable, a day after France and the U.K. chose to try to ride out the current infection wave without any more business closures. U.S. airlines, meanwhile, cancelled another 1,000 flights on Tuesday.

3. Stocks set to open lower as bonds consolidate

U.S. stocks are set to open flat to lower later, consolidating after the initial rally at the start of the week ran into a stiff headwind from the bond market.

Higher long-term interest rates, driven by fears of inflation and the Federal Reserve’s reaction to it, pushed the benchmark 10-Year Treasury yield as high as 1.68% on Tuesday, its highest in five weeks. It too is consolidating around the 1.65% level in the overnight session.

By 6:20 AM ET, Dow Jones futures were flat, while S&P 500 futures were down 0.1% and Nasdaq 100 futures were down 0.4%, continuing to reflect the greater pressure on ‘profitless tech’ and other long-duration bets whose valuations are sensitive to higher discount rates.

Stocks likely to be in focus later include General Motors (NYSE:GM), whose loss of market leadership to Toyota in the U.S. provided a sharp contrast with the surge in rival Ford’s share price on Tuesday. Also in the spotlight will be Beyond Meat (NASDAQ:BYND), after an announcement that KFC will give its products a trial run.

4. Ominous fuel-related protests in Kazakhstan turn violent; EIA inventory data due

A wave of protests against the ruling clique rocked the former Soviet country of Kazakhstan in response to surging food and energy prices.

Protesters stormed the office of the mayor in the country’s largest city Almaty, unappeased by the decision on Tuesday by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the hand-picked successor of long-ruling Nursultan Nazarbayev, to dismiss the government and reintroduce a cap on fuel prices.

The protests are an ominous sign of what may lie ahead this year as countries try to normalise economic policy as the pandemic ends, exposing some of the structural problems that have been masked by emergency stimulus policies for the last two years. Caps on fuel prices and household energy bills – and the cost of associated subsidies – are particularly likely to be an issue in Europe this spring.

Prices for crude oil, Kazakhstan’s biggest export, drifted sideways in the overnight session after a mixed report on U.S. inventories from the American Petroleum Institute. Government data are due at 10:30 AM ET as usual.

5. Bitcoin could hit $100k, says Goldman

Bitcoin could hit $100,000 over the next five years, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs.

However, in a note to clients, they say that such a development is dependent on it taking market share from gold in the universe of safe haven assets.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have traditionally been seen by their supporters as a hedge against the devaluation – sometimes steady, sometimes abrupt – of fiat currencies such as the dollar. But for most of the last couple of years they have traded as momentum assets, increasingly correlated with other risk assets.

The market was unmoved: Bitcoin edged down 0.6% to $46,389, toward the lower end of its range over the last month.

ADP, Hong Kong’s Omicron Scare, Bitcoin $100k? – What’s Moving Markets

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