New York: The Dow drifted to a fresh record on Friday in sleepy holiday trading, while bitcoin prices tumbled after South Korea announced new restrictions on cryptocurrencies. Most of the 30 companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced in a quiet session, the latest record on the heels of dozens of earlier all-time highs in US equities this year.
US stocks have been boosted all year by an improving labour market, anticipation of the massive US tax cut plan that was signed into law last week by President Donald Trump, and improving economic conditions in other key regions.
With many traders on holiday, the week between Christmas and New Year is traditionally a sleepy time for markets, among the least traded period of the year. That low volume can cause increased volatility.
“There wasn’t much trading excitement in the stock market because there was a dearth of market-moving news, as well as a dearth of participants," Briefing.com said.
“For the third day running, extremely light trading volume reflected the fact that many market participants have checked out until the new year."
In Europe, London’s FTSE ended the session flat, while Frankfurt’s DAX 30 index lost 0.7% and the Paris CAC 0.6% as the euro strengthened on the dollar.
Earlier in Asia, Hong Kong rose 0.9% and Shanghai gained 0.6%, while Sydney put on 0.3%. But Tokyo finished 0.6% lower after an afternoon sell-off fuel curbed by the strengthening yen, as traders fret over another possible North Korean missile test.
Bitcoin sank under $14,000 after South Korea said it would ban anonymous trading of virtual currencies and crack down on links to money laundering activities.
The announcement came as the hyper-wired market emerged as a hotbed for cryptocurrency trading, accounting for some 20% of global bitcoin transactions—about 10 times the country’s share of the world economy.
The new rules announced by Seoul include a ban on opening anonymous cryptocurrency accounts and new legislation to allow regulators to close virtual currency exchanges if necessary.
The digital unit has seen stratospheric growth this year, rising more than 25-fold from January to hit a record around $19,500 earlier this month, according to Bloomberg figures.