Business

Bitcoin and US tech stocks hammered as global flight from risk intensifies

Cryptocurrencies and US tech stocks were taking a hammering on Monday night amid a continuing flight from risk as a toxic cocktail of worries for the global economy grip investors.

Values for so-called growth assets have been falling particularly sharply since the day after the US Central Bank raised interest rates last week by 0.5% and signalled more were on the way as policymakers across the world battle the effects of surging inflation.

There are also growing worries that the inflation problem – made worse by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – will result in recession for major economies as the Bank of England warned, last Thursday, was a growing risk for the UK.

There was a broad-based sell-off globally on Monday, also aided by a tightened COVID lockdown in Shanghai and heightened curbs in Beijing.

While that forced down oil costs, with Brent crude falling 6% on expectations of lower demand, it meant that BP and Shell led the FTSE 100 in London down by 2.3%.

There were similar falls across European markets though the tech-focused Nasdaq on Wall Street was 4% down in late trading.

Analysts said it meant US stocks were on course to collectively deliver their lowest level of value for more than a year.

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Investors have been stripping cash from the darlings of the pandemic era this year amid fears they are over-valued when faced with an easing of public health restrictions in the West and rising interest rates.

Crypocurrencies have felt big pain too.

Bitcoin, which hit a high of $69,000 last November, has since crashed to trade at little over $30,000 as of Monday evening, according to data from Refinitiv. It was more than 15% down on Friday’s figure.

The FTSE 100, which has outperformed most global stock markets this year after it lagged the general recovery for values during 2021, saw its strong list of mining constituents come under renewed pressure on Monday.

It is just over 2% down in the year to date while the Nasdaq has lost a quarter of its value.

As a majority of its constituent companies are export-focused, the UK’s top flight index has been less exposed to the reaction generated by the Bank of England’s update when it warned of inflation above 10% by the year’s end and the possibility of a recession ahead.

The pound has felt the bulk of the pain instead – hitting lows versus the stronger dollar not seen since the early days of the pandemic at around $1.22. It is also three cents lower versus the euro over the past week.

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