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Weekly Crypto Wrap: 4th April 2024

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Rachael Lucas
Weekly Crypto Wrap: 4th April 2024

TLDR

  • Near Protocol (NEAR) is coming to BTC Markets.
  • Bitcoin ETF impact: Analysts dissect potential for a market Supercycle.
  • Algos reacting to U.S. ETF flows with US$12.1B inflows in Q1 2024.
  • US Department of Justice moves 30K BTC connected to Silk Road seizure.
  • Solana (SOL) gains 82.94% in 2024, record highs as memecoins influence volumes.
  • RBA’s economic discussion reveals slowdowns in output growth & brisk housing demand.

BTC Markets announcements

New listing: Near Protocol (NEAR) is coming to BTC Markets on April 9th.

We are excited to announce that Near Protocol (NEAR) is the next project to be listed on the BTC Markets exchange. Deposits and withdrawals will be enabled on Thursday April 4th with the market going fully live on Tuesday 9th April.

As a blockchain platform, NEAR facilitates the creation of decentralised applications (dApps) with seamless scalability. With its own blockchain, NEAR empowers developers to deploy smart contracts and dApps in a user-friendly ecosystem, prioritising scalability, security, and usability.

Read more about Near Protocol on our blog, and stay updated on the latest developments regarding this listing by following us on X/Twitter or LinkedIn.

'Crypto Corner' hosted by BTC Markets CEO Caroline Bowler.

In the latest episode of 'Crypto Corner,' Caroline Bowler and Mike Loader engage in an in-depth discussion with Robbie Coleman, Creative Director of the Litecoin Foundation. They discuss Litecoin's evolving identity often referred to as 'digital silver,' its practical applications in remittance payments and micro-transactions, and its commitment to permissionless technology.

Key topics include Litecoin's impact on broader cryptocurrency adoption, reflections on its recent halving, collaborations with traditional finance, and the Litecoin Foundation's global outreach efforts.

Tune in for exclusive insights shaping the future of Litecoin in the rapidly evolving landscape of blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

Tune in to our YouTube channel or Ticker News to watch the third episode.

Money 20/20 Asia: BTC Markets CEO, Caroline Bowler joins Standard Chartered on stage.

Join industry leaders at Money 20/20 Asia in Bangkok as they explore critical topics shaping the digital asset landscape. On Tuesday, 23 April, our CEO Caroline Bowler joins moderator René Michau, Global Head of Digital Assets for Standard Chartered, alongside fellow panellist Dina Mainville, President of Collisionless, to discuss ‘When the Earth and Moon Collide: Risk Lessons from DeFi’.

Then, on Thursday, 25 April Caroline will join a panel discussion on the ‘Pros and Cons of Tokenisation’. Don't miss this opportunity to engage in thought-provoking discussions. Secure your pass today and save $250 with code SUPERSTAR250. Join us at #M2020ASIA.

OTC Desk: Unlocking global liquidity, tighter spreads, and T+0 settlements.

At BTC Markets, our OTC desk is your dedicated partner in achieving a variety of financial objectives. We specialise in helping clients reposition their SMSF holdings, assisting them through the complexities of EOFY, and facilitating the release of additional capital during the tax season. Our commitment to personalised service means that we work closely with businesses engaged in crypto payments, ensuring they optimise the value of their frequent conversions to AUD.

Whether you're a seasoned trader looking for a discreet and highly efficient means to execute substantial positions, or a business seeking a streamlined solution to manage your crypto portfolio, our OTC team is here to empower you. With access to global liquidity, tighter spreads, and T+0 settlements, we offer a comprehensive range of services tailored to meet your unique needs.

Schedule a call with our team of expert traders today.

BTC Markets in the news

Money Magazine (print edition): Bitcoin takes off to scale new heights.

The upcoming halving could drive the price even higher, says Caroline Bowler, chief executive of fellow exchange BTC Markets.

“The Bitcoin halving typically impacts price positively.

The halving event occurs approximately every four years and involves a reduction in the rewards miners receive for validating transactions by half. This event is hardcoded into Bitcoin's protocol and is designed to limit the total supply of Bitcoin to 21 million.”

Source: moneymag.com.au

Capital Brief: Treasury defers crypto regulation despite industry calls for clarity.

Caroline Bowler, chief executive of crypto exchange BTC Markets, told Capital Brief the decision was a disaster and would lead to investment moving offshore and Australia falling further behind in the shift to digital assets.

“This new, these endless, delays are an issue. It's not just an issue for the industry, it's an issue for the Australian crypto investor," she said. "The lack of certainty, the lack of security, and the world’s moving on."

Source: Capital Brief

The Bitcoin Halving

The Bitcoin Halving sparks optimism as investors await potential price surge.

Bitcoin's upcoming Halving event has ignited anticipation among cryptocurrency enthusiasts, with expectations of a significant upward repricing for the digital asset. This event, coupled with the broader acceptance of Bitcoin, sets the stage for projected growth in its value.

The Halving, a programmed event in Bitcoin's protocol that reduces the reward miners receive for validating transactions by half, typically occurs approximately every four years. Historically, Halving events have been associated with bullish market sentiments and subsequent price surges. As such, investors are eagerly eyeing the potential impact of this impending Halving on Bitcoin's price trajectory.

While exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have already made their mark in the cryptocurrency space, the Halving event represents an additional catalyst for price appreciation. Bitcoin bulls foresee this event as a signal for at least one more significant upward movement in its value, with price targets ranging from US$150,000 to US$250,000.

However, it's essential to maintain a realistic perspective amid the excitement. While the Halving event may fuel short-term price rallies, investors should remain cautious and mindful of the cyclical nature of the cryptocurrency market. The road ahead may include periods of rapid growth, but it's crucial to remember that markets can quickly peak and enter correction phases.

Furthermore, Ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalisation, presents its own opportunities for investors. With its own ETF approval pending in the U.S. and a history of outperforming Bitcoin during certain market cycles, Ethereum enthusiasts are optimistic about its potential for further gains.

Guess the Bitcoin Halving date for your chance to win!

Join our ‘Guess the Bitcoin Halving Date’ promotion on X/Twitter. Click here to submit your guess for a chance to win AU$100 worth of Bitcoin!

Bitcoin Halving Guess The Date

The Bitcoin Halving countdown

Updated as of 12:17pm AEDT 04/04/2024.

CMC Bitcoin Halving countdown

Source: coinmarketcap.com

State of crypto

  • Bitcoin ETF impact: Analysts dissect potential for a market Supercycle.
  • Algos reacting to U.S. ETF flows, analysts say.
  • Spot Bitcoin ETFs see US$12.1B inflows in Q1 2024 as trading volumes triple.
  • ARK Bitcoin ETF records US$87M outflow, surpasses GBTC.
  • US Department of Justice moves 30K BTC connected to Silk Road seizure.
  • Crypto market sees US$400M liquidations as alts lead major slide.

Bitcoin ETF impact: Analysts dissect potential for a market Supercycle.

Analysts debate the influence of Bitcoin U.S. exchange-traded funds (ETFs) on the cryptocurrency's trajectory, assessing their significance amidst historic market behaviours. While ETFs have injected substantial capital into the market, experts contend that other factors, such as on-chain investor behaviour and long-term accumulation trends, may provide a more comprehensive view of Bitcoin's future trajectory. Despite differing perspectives, both agree on the unprecedented demand witnessed in the current market cycle, underscoring the evolving dynamics within the crypto landscape.

Bitcoin's Asian swings: Algos reacting to U.S. ETF flows, analysts say.

Bitcoin's recent volatility in Asian trading hours could be attributed to automated trading protocols reacting to data on US exchange-traded funds (ETFs) holding the cryptocurrency according to analysts. Fluctuations in Bitcoin's price coincide with the release of daily figures indicating demand for spot-Bitcoin ETFs, with investors reacting to inflows and outflows.

The launch of several U.S. Bitcoin ETFs in January has drawn significant capital into the market, influencing market sentiment and triggering automated trading algorithms to buy or sell based on this data. This phenomenon highlights the growing impact of ETF flows on Bitcoin's price dynamics and underscores the importance of monitoring global ETF trends in the cryptocurrency market.

Spot Bitcoin ETFs see US$12.1B inflows in Q1 2024.

The first quarter of 2024 saw significant inflows into spot Bitcoin U.S. exchange-traded funds (ETFs), totalling approximately US$12.1 billion. Blackrock's iShares Bitcoin Trust (IBIT) emerged as the top performer, attracting US$13.9 billion in inflows, while Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) experienced massive outflows of US$14.7 billion.

The influx of funds into these ETFs contributed to the surge in Bitcoin's price, which saw a 67% increase year-to-date. Analysts predict continued inflows into spot Bitcoin ETFs in the coming years, signalling sustained demand among professional investors and potential further price gains for Bitcoin.

Trading volume for spot Bitcoin U.S. ETFs surged to US$111 billion in March.

In March, trading volume for spot Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) surged to US$111 billion, nearly three times the volume recorded in February. BlackRock's IBIT ETF led in market share, followed by Grayscale's GBTC and Fidelity's FBTC. Despite strong inflows into BlackRock and Fidelity ETFs, Grayscale's GBTC saw significant outflows, totalling over US$15 billion. The rise in trading volume reflects growing investor interest in spot Bitcoin ETFs, which have played a significant role in driving Bitcoin to new all-time highs. With the Bitcoin supply halving approaching, market participants anticipate a new cycle influenced by the success of ETFs.

ARK Bitcoin ETF records US$87M outflow, surpasses GBTC.

Cathie Wood's ARK 21 Shares Bitcoin ETF experienced a significant daily outflow of over US$87 million on April 2, surpassing Grayscale's Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) for the first time since the launch of spot Bitcoin ETFs in the United States. This marks the second consecutive day of outflows for ARKB, with Grayscale posting another daily outflow of US$81.9 million. Despite these outflows, BlackRock's fund saw a US$150.5 million inflow, resulting in a net aggregate inflow for the day. ARKB remains the third-largest spot ETF, holding US$2.2 billion in assets under management (AUM), behind BlackRock and Fidelity's funds. Despite the recent outflows, Bitcoin ETFs traded around US$111 billion in volume in March, nearly triple the volume from the previous two months combined, indicating sustained interest in the market.

US Department of Justice moves 30K BTC connected to Silk Road seizure.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) initiated a transfer of more than 30,100 Bitcoins linked to the Silk Road hack on Tuesday. The transaction, which involved a small test transfer of 0.001 BTC to a Coinbase wallet, likely signifies preparations for a larger sale of the long-held coins. Such test transfers are common practice to ensure the security and functionality of the transfer pathway before moving the entire sum. Despite the small test amount, the transaction required moving a much larger lot of 30,175 BTC, with most of these coins being returned to the government's wallet. This process reflects the inherent workings of Bitcoin transactions, where every input used in a transaction must be spent in its entirety, with the excess sent back as change.

The US government has previously used Coinbase to sell confiscated Bitcoins, including those from the Silk Road bust. Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road, is serving a double life sentence plus forty years without parole, prompting ongoing debate over his case's fairness and broader implications for internet freedom. Despite calls for clemency, Ulbricht's family continues to advocate for his release, citing alleged investigative abuses during his trial and the disproportionate nature of his sentence.

Crypto market sees US$400M liquidations as Solana and Dogecoin lead major slide.

Earlier this week, major cryptocurrencies witnessed a significant decline, with Bitcoin dropping 5% and other prominent tokens like Ethereum, Cardano's ADA, and BNB Chain's BNB experiencing similar losses. Long positions worth over US$400 million faced liquidations, while shorts took on a relatively smaller amount of US$85 million. Analysts from Bitfinex anticipate Bitcoin to remain range-bound in the coming weeks as long-term investors sell off holdings.

Solana's SOL and Dogecoin (DOGE) led the slide, dropping 7% and 8% respectively. Bitcoin Cash's BCH also fell 10% amid profit-taking after a recent rally. The CoinDesk 20 index, which tracks major tokens excluding stablecoins, declined by just over 5%. Analysts observe strategic profit-taking among long-term holders, contributing to Bitcoin's consolidation within a range. Resistance is noted at the US$71,000 level, with caution prevailing in broader markets against riskier assets.

Spot Bitcoin ETF Total Net Flows

Source: TheBlock.co

The weekly crypto close on Tradingview*.

Litecoin (LTC) leads the weekly performance for second consecutive week.

Litecoin (LTC) maintained its position as the top performer for the second consecutive week, recording an impressive gain of 17.26%. Following closely was Solana (SOL), which saw a notable increase of 10.19%. Bitcoin (BTC) experienced a modest rise of 6.19%, while Ethereum (ETH) recorded a gain of 5.57%. Chainlink (LINK) and Cardano (ADA) also saw positive movement, with increases of 3.60% and 0.46% respectively.

Weekly crypto close

Litecoin surges on mobile upgrades and regulatory recognition as a commodity.

Litecoin (LTC) has experienced a notable 8% increase, reaching US$107 per coin, propelled by recent mobile upgrades and regulatory acknowledgment as a commodity.

Litecoin stands out among the top 15 cryptocurrencies by market cap, being the only one to demonstrate growth amidst its counterparts. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) officially classifying Litecoin as a commodity, along with Ethereum (ETH), further solidifies its significance in the digital asset sector. Additionally, Coinbase’s decision to list Litecoin Futures on its platform has bolstered investor confidence in LTC.

The recent surge in Litecoin's price could also attributed to its latest software update, Core v0.21.3, released in March. This update focuses on accelerating the adoption of MimbleWimble Extension Blocks (MWEB), enhancing transaction confidentiality, fungibility, and scalability. The implementation of LIP006 and its server component into Litecoin Core emphasises the role of full nodes in maintaining the decentralised integrity of the network.

Looking ahead, the Litecoin Foundation plans to introduce mobile wallets fully supporting MWEB transactions later this year, aiming to establish Litecoin as one of the most fungible digital currencies available. Ongoing collaborations with third-party partners underscore Litecoin's commitment to enhancing user privacy and network scalability.

Solana achieves record highs as WIF and BOME influence volumes.

In March, Solana experienced unprecedented growth, with its decentralised exchanges (DEXes) witnessing a surge in trading volume, surpassing US$60 billion and setting a new high. This increase could be attributed to the significant interest in meme coins on the Solana network during the period.

Meme assets like Dogwifhat (WIF) saw a substantial rise in value, with a 140% increase, while newer tokens such as Book of Meme (BOME) recorded a remarkable 1773% price surge. This surge in meme coin activity contributed to a rally in prices and boosted trading activity on Solana DEXes.

As a result of the increased trading activity, Solana's transaction fees and revenue reached record highs in March. Transaction fees totalled US$69 million, marking a 431% increase from February, while revenue from fees reached US$35 million, showing a 483% month-over-month growth.

Solana's native coin, SOL, also experienced significant growth, reaching US$185 per coin, with a 43% increase in value over the last month. Key momentum indicators, including the Accumulation / Distribution (A/D) Line, Money Flow Index (MFI), and Relative Strength Index (RSI), indicate a growing demand for SOL and confirm the strength of its price trend.

Overall, Solana continues to attract market demand and maintain its upward trajectory, fuelled by the success of meme coins and increased trading activity on its network.

*The weekly trading stats as of Monday, April 1st at 11:00 am AEDT, based on data from Tradingview in USD.

Total crypto market cap.

The cryptocurrency market has experienced significant growth this year, boasting a 50% increase in value. Over the past week, the total crypto market capitalisation has risen by 6.04%, reaching a valuation of US$2.617 trillion.

Comparing the market capitalisation of cryptocurrencies to that of global assets, the crypto market stands alongside Apple, which holds a market capitalisation of US$2.16 trillion. Microsoft is the second-largest global asset, valued at US$3.124 trillion and Gold remains the undisputed leader in terms of market capitalisation, with a commanding valuation of US$15.577 trillion.

Top assets by market cap (All assets, including public companies, precious metals, cryptocurrencies, & ETFs).

Top assets by market cap

Source: companiesmarketcap.com

Year-to-date in the crypto space from TradingView*.

Here's the year-to-date performance summary for selected cryptocurrencies:

  • Solana (SOL) leads with an impressive gain of 82.94%.
  • Bitcoin (BTC) follows closely behind, showing a solid increase of 56.43%.
  • Ethereum (ETH) demonstrates strong performance with a gain of 45.96%.
  • Litecoin (LTC) breaks resistance, rising by 37.49%.
  • Avalanche (AVAX) follows suit with a respectable increase of 20.85%.

- Chainlink (LINK) gains 20.47% year-to-date.

Year to date

*Year-to-date performance as of Thursday, April 4th at 12:20 pm AEDT approximately. Based on data from Tradingview in USD.

Crypto Fear& Greed Index

Fear and greed index

Source: alternative.me

Crypto news

Ethereum's Purge and EigenLayer's US$12.4b DeFi growth.

Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, has outlined the next steps for protocol simplification and reducing node resource loads, known as the Purge. This stage involves removing outdated and excessive network history, streamlining the Ethereum network over time.

The Purge aims to reduce historical data storage requirements, significantly lowering the hard disk needs for node operators. It also addresses technical debt within the Ethereum protocol, improving efficiency and scalability.

EigenLayer has emerged as the second-largest decentralised finance (DeFi) protocol on Ethereum, with a total value locked (TVL) of US$12.4 billion according to a Coinbase research report. EigenLayer enables validators to earn additional rewards by securing actively validated services (AVS) through restaking their staked ether. This process involves collateralising a diverse pool of underlying liquid staked tokens (LSTs) or native staked ETH.

Restaking and liquid restaking tokens (LRTs) may carry higher risks than existing staking, both financially as well as from a security standpoint. Despite that, Coinbase acknowledges restaking's role in Ethereum's future infrastructure.

Trade ETH/AUD on BTC Markets.

Diamonds get digital: accessible investment arrives on Avalanche.

The Diamond Standard Fund, sponsored by Diamond Standard and Horizon Kinetics, has undergone tokenisation through Oasis Pro. This tokenised version of the fund has been listed on Oasis Pro Market's SEC-registered Alternative Trading System (ATS), facilitated by the Avalanche C-Chain.

The Diamond Standard Fund is designed to track Bloomberg's Diamond Standard Index (DIAMINDX). This structure makes it attractive and accessible to pension funds, endowments, and U.S. retirement accounts known as IRAs.

The fund's tokenisation is based on the ERC-3643 token standard, which consists of open-source smart contracts. This standard enables the issuance, management, and transfer of permissioned tokens, specifically tailored for tokenised assets like diamonds.

According to Diamond Standard's CEO, this offering aims to make the US$1.2 trillion natural resource more accessible to investors through a convenient and tradable fund structure.

Tune into Avalanche (AVAX) analysis with Ava Labs CEO Emin Gün Sirer on Real Vision.

Delve deeper into Avalanche (AVAX) with Real Vision’s latest analysis on Pro Crypto. In this exclusive interview, Ava Labs co-founder and CEO Dr. Emin Gün Sirer joins Ash Bennington to explore the significance of Avalanche, its comparison to Ethereum and Solana, upcoming ecosystem upgrades, and insights on the broader crypto market landscape. Watch the full interview here.

Trade AVAX/AUD on BTC Markets.

Litecoin soars after CFTC classifies it as a commodity.


Litecoin (LTC) has experienced a significant surge recently, becoming the second best-performing cryptocurrency in the top 100. Its price surged by 24% over the past 7 days, surpassing the US$100 mark. In addition to this recent surge, Litecoin has also seen a strong 31.7% price increase over the past month.

This surge can be attributed partly to a statement from the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). In a lawsuit against crypto exchange KuCoin, the CFTC classified Litecoin as a commodity alongside Bitcoin and Ethereum. This classification is crucial as it places Litecoin beyond the oversight of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which imposes stricter regulations on coin issuers regarding securities. As a commodity, Litecoin could see more endorsements and integrations without the threat of SEC enforcement actions.

Trade LTC/AUD on BTC Markets.

The week ahead: economic events

April 4th: Canada Balance of Trade.

April 5th: Australia Balance of Trade. Canada Unemployment Rate. United States Non Farm Payrolls and Unemployment Rate.

April 6th: Canada Ivey Purchasing Managers Index.

April 8th: Germany Balance of Trade.

April 9th: Australia Consumer Confidence MoM and Business Confidence. Japan Consumer Confidence.

April 10th: United States Core Inflation Rate MoM, Core Inflation Rate, Inflation Rate MoM and Inflation Rate.

April 11th: Canada Interest Rate and Monetary Policy Report. United States Fed Funds Interest Rate.

Source: Economic Calendar (tradingeconomics.com)

Market reflections

Overview

The RBA notes output growth slowdown and robust housing demand as Australian manufacturing contracts, faces rising input costs. Housing market maintains momentum whilst economy maintains stability amidst mixed signals in economic indicators. Globally, Q4 GDP in the U.S. surpasses expectations at 3.4% as China's manufacturing rebounds with NBS PMI rise. Japan's business confidence softens and the BOJ Tankan Index declines. European inflation pressures ease, CPI dips in Germany, France, and Italy.

Australia

  • RBA’s economic discussion reveals slowdowns in output growth & brisk housing demand.
  • Manufacturing sector sees continued contraction and rising input costs.
  • Australian housing market maintains growth momentum in February.
  • Economic indicators reflect stability amidst mixed signals.

RBA’s economic discussion reveals slowdowns in output growth & brisk housing demand.

In the latest minutes from the Reserve Bank (RBA), the board discussed a slowdown in output growth, fuelled by weak household consumption amidst high inflation and interest rates. Challenges persist in stimulating consumption growth despite expected rises in real household disposable income.

Labour market conditions eased slightly, with robust wages growth showing signs of peaking. Discussions focused on the sustainability of productivity growth and its implications for inflation.

Underlying inflation moderated but remained elevated, prompting discussions on the importance of monetary policy in managing inflationary dynamics amidst global economic adjustments.

Globally, inflation trends varied, with challenges faced by the Chinese economy and stable financial conditions internationally. Expectations of policy rate adjustments were widespread across various economies.

Risks to financial stability were discussed, with attention on the future system for monetary policy implementation amid changing economic dynamics.

The Reserve Bank maintained the cash rate target emphasising the need for a balanced approach in managing monetary policy amidst evolving economic conditions.

Manufacturing sector outlook.

The Judo Bank Flash Australia Manufacturing PMI signalled continued contraction, driven by decreased new work inflows and export orders, highlighting ongoing pressures in the manufacturing sector.

Australian housing market update.

Despite challenges like rate hikes and affordability concerns, Australia's housing market showed resilience, with most capitals witnessing rises in dwelling values amidst housing undersupply.

Inflation and economic outlook.

The Melbourne Institute's Monthly Inflation Gauge indicated stable quarterly inflation, reflecting ongoing monitoring by the central bank in managing inflation amidst broader economic recovery efforts.

Job ads decline in March pointing to rise in unemployment.

Job advertisements decreased in March 2024, hinting at potential gradual rises in unemployment, emphasising the need for adaptive strategies in navigating evolving employment landscapes.

Consumer confidence and inflation expectations.

Consumer confidence remained relatively steady, while inflation expectations rose, reflecting ongoing economic uncertainties and the importance of consumer sentiment in gauging economic resilience.

Commodity prices update.

The RBA’s Index of Commodity Prices marked the thirteenth consecutive month of deflation, reflecting ongoing challenges in global commodity markets and their implications for Australia's economic outlook.

Australian services sector shows robust growth in March.

The Judo Bank Flash Australia Services PMI Business Activity Index surged in March, marking the second consecutive expansion and the quickest growth since April 2022. This growth was fuelled by increased new business, despite a decline in new export business due to reduced overseas demand.

The Judo Bank Australia Composite Output Index rose in March, driven by strong growth in the services sector, though manufacturing continued to shrink. Despite challenges, overall optimism was at a seven-month high, buoyed by increased confidence in the services sector.

Global

  • U.S. economic growth surges as Q4 GDP hits 3.4%, outpacing expectations.
  • China's manufacturing sector rebounds as NBS Manufacturing PMI jumps.
  • Japan's business confidence softens: BOJ Tankan Index declines in Q1.
  • European inflationary pressures ease: Germany’s CPI dips, France & Italy follow suit.

U.S. economy surges as Q4 GDP growth hits 3.4%.

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reported a robust 3.4% annualised growth rate in the fourth quarter of 2023, driven by strong consumer spending and non-residential business investments. While consumer spending on services saw upward revisions, goods spending experienced modest growth. Non-residential investment, particularly in intellectual property products, structures, and equipment, showed significant momentum. Government spending also contributed .to economic expansion.

Federal Reserve holds interest rates, plans three rate cuts in 2024.

In March 2024, the Federal Reserve maintained the fed funds rate at 5.25%-5.5%, aligning with market expectations. The Fed reiterated its plan to cut interest rates three times in 2024, with similar projections for 2025 and 2026. GDP growth forecasts for these years were revised upwards, with stable core PCE prices and moderate increases in personal income and spending.

IMS Manufacturing PMI signals expansion in March 2024.

The ISM Manufacturing PMI rose in March 2024, indicating the first expansion in 16 months. Positive trends in demand and production levels were observed, alongside a moderate rise in prices due to unstable commodity costs. However, employment numbers continued to decline.

Job openings surge in February 2024 across various sectors.

Job openings increased in February 2024, surpassing market expectations. Growth was seen in finance, insurance, state, local government (excluding education), and arts sectors, while declines were noted in information and federal government sectors.

U.S. services sector growth slows in March 2024, inflation concerns persist.

In March 2024, the ISM Services PMI in the US declined, falling below forecasts. This indicates the weakest growth in the services sector in three months. Factors contributing to this slowdown include a decrease in new orders and inventories, along with faster supplier deliveries. Employment also contracted due to challenges in filling positions and managing labour expenses. However, there were some positive indicators, including increased business activity and new export orders. Despite easing price pressures, respondents expressed ongoing concerns about inflation.

China's manufacturing sector rebounds as NBS manufacturing PMI jumps.

China's official NBS Manufacturing PMI rose in March 2024, marking the first growth in factory activity in six months. Output and new orders experienced significant growth, supported by efforts to stimulate economic growth.

The Caixin China General Manufacturing PMI increased in March 2024, indicating the fifth consecutive month of growth in factory activity. New orders from domestic and foreign markets drove output and export sales, while employment declined.

Japan's business confidence softens: BOJ Tankan Index declines in Q1.

The Bank of Japan's Tankan index decreased 11 in the first quarter of 2024, the first decline in a year. Shutdowns of car plants contributed to this decline, although some sectors showed improvements. Large manufacturing firms anticipate further deterioration in business conditions in the second quarter.

European inflationary pressures ease: Germany’s CPI dips, France and Italy follow suit.

Germany's inflation rate decreased to 2.2% in March 2024, while France's inflation rate decelerated to 2.3%, both aligning with market expectations. Italy's inflation rate increased to 1.3%, driven by diminishing high base effects for utility bills.

Euro Area consumer price inflation declines to 2.4% in March 2024, below market expectations.

In March, the consumer price inflation rate in the Euro Area dropped to 2.4% year-on-year, matching November's 28-month low and falling below market expectations of 2.6%. The core rate, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, also decreased to 2.9%, its lowest level since February 2022, below forecasts of 3.0%. Monthly consumer prices rose by 0.8% in March, following a 0.6% increase in February.

Regulation roundup

MAS tightens crypto rules in Singapore.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has revised its Payments Service Act (PSA), which will be implemented in phases beginning April 4. One notable change is the inclusion of regulatory oversight for crypto custody and cross-border fund transfer companies.

Under the updated regulations, digital payment token (DPT) service providers are required to segregate customer assets in trust accounts and organise their books and records within six months from the start date. These amendments are designed to strengthen regulatory supervision and safeguard customer assets within the cryptocurrency industry.

Furthermore, the revisions to the Payments Service Act (PSA) broaden the regulatory framework to encompass custodial services, the facilitation of cryptocurrency transfers, and cross-border money transfers.

Service providers have a transition period to meet new licensing requirements, including submitting an external auditor’s report within nine months. Failing to comply by October 4th, as mandated by the MAS press release, will result in termination of operations in Singapore.

MAS wrote: “The amendments will empower MAS to impose requirements relating to anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism, user protection and financial stability on DPT service providers.”

Compliance conversations

Scam Sniffer report highlights a 1,900% rise in phishing scam losses on Ethereum Layer-2 chain 'Base'.

Scam Sniffer’s March Phishing Report shows that Ethereum layer-2 chain Base experienced a significant 1,900% rise in cryptocurrency funds (around US$3.35 million) stolen via phishing scams compared to January.

This increase aligns with the rapid growth of Base's total value locked (TVL) above US$3.2 billion, marking a 370% increase since the beginning of 2024, propelled by a recent surge in memecoin activity like Brett (BRETT) and Degen (DEGEN) on the platform.

The losses from phishing scams across all blockchain networks also saw a significant increase, totalling US$71.5 million and impacting 77,529 victims in March, surpassing the amount in January (US$58.3 million) and February (US$46.8 million).

Fake X (formerly Twitter) accounts posting phishing links have continued to be a primary tactic used by scammers, with over 1,500 such incidents detected in March alone.

Despite a significant rise in phishing scams, the total amount stolen in crypto hacks decreased by 48% to US$187.2 million in March, according to PeckShield. This figure includes US$98.8 million that was recovered during the month, with most recoveries attributed to the recent Munchables exploit.

The ASIC provides a checklist of common scams and ways to avoid them. To learn more, visit ASIC’s website.

Discover more on our ‘Compliance conversation’ blog page, where we share the latest updates on safeguarding against scams and protecting your assets. Stay informed and stay protected!

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Weekly prices are accurate as of 11:00 AM AEST on 01/04/2024.

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