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US futures slip, bitcoin soars, COP28 - what's moving markets

Published Dec 04, 2023 10:40
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Investing.com -- U.S. stocks are set to start the new week on a negative note, handing back some of the prior month's strong gains as traders await Friday's key jobs report. Bitcoin soars above $40,000, while crude retreats amid uncertainty over the actual extent of newly announced OPEC+ output cuts. The COP28 meeting is coming to an end, with its final agreement in dispute. 

1. Futures slip after S&P hit 2023 high

U.S. stock futures fell on Monday, handing back some recent gains at the start of the final month of the year.

By 05:15 ET (10:15 GMT), the Dow futures contract was 78 points, or 0.2%, lower, S&P 500 futures had dipped by 13 points or 0.3%, and Nasdaq 100 futures had fallen by 60 points or 0.4%.

The benchmark S&P 500 index hit its highest level this year on Friday, bringing its year-to-date gains to almost 20%. The blue-chip Dow has also advanced for five weeks straight and is up over 9% for the year, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite has surged 37% in 2023.

The averages have benefited from growing expectations that the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates unchanged later this month, before starting to cut next year.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell said on Friday that the risks of the U.S. central bank slowing the economy more than necessary have become "more balanced" with those of not moving interest rates high enough to control inflation, suggesting caution going forward.

There will be no updates from Fed officials during the week as the central bank enters the traditional blackout period ahead of its Dec 12 - 13 meeting, meaning investors will have to concentrate on data releases for further monetary policy clues, and Friday’s official jobs report in particular (see below).

2. November payrolls close this week

The week’s key economic data release will be Friday’s November jobs report, as investors try and gauge whether growth in the world’s largest economy is continuing to level off.

Economists expect the U.S. economy to have added 180,000 jobs in November, after 150,000 jobs were created in October, with the unemployment rate remaining at 3.9%. Average hourly earnings are seen rising 0.3% on the month, an annual rise of 4.0%. 

Too strong a number would undercut bets that the Fed will begin loosening its restrictive monetary policy earlier than expected, presenting an obstacle to the fourth quarter rally in stocks and bonds.

A weak number, on the other hand, could spark fears that the economy is cooling following 525 basis points of rate increases, potentially dampening risk appetite.

3. Bitcoin surges past $40,000

Bitcoin, the world’s biggest cryptocurrency, surged past the $40,000 level in early trading Monday, more than doubling in value this year and climbing to its highest level since May 2022, right before the cryptocurrency sector was rocked and prices slumped due to the collapse of the stablecoin Terra.

Bitcoin, and the cryptocurrency market as a whole, has benefited from raised expectations that U.S. interest rates are heading lower next year - after all, easy monetary policy and increased speculative trading saw the token reach a record high of nearly $69,000 in 2021. 

Adding to positive sentiment has been speculation over the potential approval of a U.S. ETF that directly tracks the price of the cryptocurrency, amid growing confidence that this would draw in large swathes of institutional capital. 

The approval of such a product by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission would likely be translated as meaning official acceptance of the crypto industry - a sector that has been wracked with a series of high-profile bankruptcies and regulatory crackdowns.

4. COP28 final statement in debate

The 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference continues in Dubai Monday, but world leaders have now left, so any announcements are likely to be more limited in scope.

Central to the summit's outcome is how countries will word a final agreement on the future of fossil fuels.

The president of the summit, UAE’s Sultan al Jaber, caused controversy over the weekend by claiming there was “no science” to suggest phasing out fossil fuels will help limit global warming to the 1.5 degrees celsius target established by the 2015 Paris Agreement. 

More than 100 countries already support a phase-out of fossil fuels, and the success of this summit could be determined by whether the final COP28 agreement calls for this or uses weaker language such as “phase-down”.

5. Oil retreats after voluntary OPEC+ output cuts

Oil prices fell Monday, continuing the weakness seen at the end of last week amid uncertainty over the likely extent of the crude output cuts agreed by a group of top producers.

By 05:15 ET, the U.S. crude futures traded 0.9% lower at $73.40 a barrel, while the Brent contract dropped 0.9% to $78.14 per barrel. 

Oil prices slumped more than 2% last week despite the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russia, a group known as OPEC+, announcing additional production cuts in order to support prices.

However, the cuts were voluntary in nature, and this has raised doubts about whether or not producers would fully implement them. 

This uncertainty has outweighed the rising geopolitical tensions, with the resumption of the Israel-Hamas war after a recent ceasefire. Additionally, there was an attack on an American warship and commercial vessels in the Red Sea on Sunday, with Yemen's Houthi group claiming drone and missile attacks on two Israeli vessels in the area.

The developments risk inflaming fears that the Israel-Hamas war could widen into a broader conflict, potentially impacting crude supply in the oil-rich region.

 

US futures slip, bitcoin soars, COP28 - what's moving markets
 

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