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Global markets extend rally on US jobs data, with eyes on Fed

By AFP - Dec 11,2017 - Last updated at Dec 11,2017

A token of the virtual currency Bitcoin is seen placed on a monitor that displays binary digits in this illustration picture, on Friday (Reuters file photo)

LONDON — Most Asian and European stock markets rose on Monday, tracking fresh records on Wall Street after forecast-busting US jobs data, as investors eyed this week's upcoming Federal Reserve [Fed] meeting.

Bitcoin continued its stratospheric rise after the virtual money began trading on its first major global exchange over the weekend.

European bourses enjoyed slender gains after a broadly positive Asian session, with London up 0.7 per cent, while Frankfurt added 0.2 per cent and Paris advanced 0.1 per cent in midday deals.

Eyes are now on the Fed's last monetary policy meeting of the year, which winds down on Wednesday.

Most analysts expect the central bank's policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) to lift interest rates again, but they will be more interested in what boss Janet Yellen has to say about the timetable for future increases.

"The Fed will no doubt provide markets with a central focus this week, where the FOMC are expected to come good on their promise of three rate hikes for 2017," said IG analyst Joshua Mahony.

"With market expectations for 2018 somewhat up in the air, there is a feeling that investors are hungry for clues as to where things will stand in 12-months' time."

US data on Friday showed 228,000 jobs were created last month and unemployment held at a 17-year low, reinforcing the view that the world's number one economy is in a healthy state.

The reading — mixed with news of a breakthrough in Brexit talks, strong Chinese indicators and aprogress in US tax reform — helped fire a rally in US equities before the weekend, driving the Dow and S&P 500 to all-time highs.

Adding to the upbeat sentiment was an agreement by US lawmakers to keep funding the government to avert a painful shutdown.

The advance helped staunch a sell-off that has hit global markets for most of this month as traders wound down and took profits before the end of the year.

In Asia on Monday, Tokyo ended 0.6-per cent higher as the Nikkei rose for a third straight day, while Hong Kong surged more than 1 per cent and Shanghai added 1 per cent as Chinese traders brushed off lower than expected inflation figures.

Bitcoin surges 

 

Bitcoin catapulted past $18,000 on a wave of fresh optimism, despite persistent bubble fears.

The unit remains in focus after ticking off multiple records since the start of December.

Trading of the controversial digital currency on a futures contract began on Sunday on the Chicago board options exchange (Cboe) at a price of $15,000.

The move is a milestone for bitcoin, which has previously only been tradable on unregulated exchanges.

Bitcoin was trading at $17,600 per unit for the futures contract expiring on January 17, exceeding the highest value it had reached on alternative non-regulated internet platforms, and even climbed past $18,000.

 

"The level of volatility the introduction will have is uncertain," said Shane Chanel, equities and derivatives adviser at ASR Wealth Advisers.

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