Bitcoin rose on Wednesday morning in Asia as all top 10 cryptocurrencies traded higher after strong gains on Wall Street amid signs the U.S. economy is in stronger shape than expected. Additionally, more traditional financial institutions are venturing into the U.S. digital asset industry, with asset manager Fidelity reportedly preparing for a spot Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) application.

All top 10 cryptos rise

Bitcoin climbed 1.3% to US$30,606 over the last 24 hours to 7:10 a.m. in Hong Kong, according to data from CoinMarketCap. The world’s largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization is up 8.51% over the past seven days.

Ether rose 1.63% to US$1,887 for a gain of 5.61% for the week.

All top 10 non-stablecoin cryptocurrencies traded higher, with Polygon leading the gains on a 3.26% jump and a 5.96% weekly gain.

Fidelity is close to filing an application for a spot Bitcoin ETF in the U.S., The Block news site reported on Tuesday, citing a source familiar with the matter. This follows a wave of U.S. spot Bitcoin ETF applications submitted by asset managers this month, including BlackRock, WisdomTree, Invesco and Bitwise, indicating institutions are confident in the profit potential in digital assets.

However, all the applications will need approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission and Fidelity’s previous attempt to offer a spot Bitcoin ETF in the U.S. in 2021 was rejected. It did however launch the Fidelity Advantage Bitcoin ETF in Toronto, Canada, in December 2021. The ETF has risen 75% since the beginning of this year.

Investors are also reacting to reports HSBC, one of the world’s top 10 banks, is reportedly offering Bitcoin and Ether futures ETFs on its investment platform for bank customers in Hong Kong. 

HSBC did not respond to requests seeking clarification on exactly when the products became available to clients as they were listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange in December. However, the development is seen as significant as the bank has traditionally been frosty toward cryptocurrencies, preventing clients from transferring funds from HSBC accounts directly to crypto exchanges.  

“Although these crypto ETFs [in Hong Kong] are based on CME futures and are not physically backed like many of the [exchange traded products] in Europe, this is certainly very positive news for investors in the region who want to get regulated exposure to price movements in Bitcoin and Ethereum,” Bradley Duke, co-CEO at Europe-based ETC Group, said in an emailed statement.

The total cryptocurrency market cap rose 1.21% to US$1.19 trillion, with trading volume dropping 8.08% to US$35.49 billion, according to CoinMarketCap data.

Azuki Elementals NFTs take off

The indexes are proxy measures of the performance of the global NFT market. They are managed by CryptoSlam, a sister company of Forkast.News under the Forkast.Labs umbrella.

In the non-fungible token (NFT) market, the Forkast 500 NFT index dipped 0.79% to 2,876.23 in the 24 hours to 8:30 a.m. in Hong Kong. The index is down 0.72% for the week.

The decline was mainly driven by the Forkast ETH NFT Composite, which fell 1.54%, said Yehudah Petscher, NFT Strategist at Forkast Labs, the parent company of Forkast.News.

“This may reflect traders selling their existing assets to buy the new Azuki Elementals collection,” Petscher added. “It also reflects a major sell-off in the main Azuki and Beanz collections, as traders had been buying those in order to have a shot at the [Elementals] presale [on Tuesday].”

NFT trading volume on Ethereum jumped 307% to US$67.19 million over the past 24 hours, while volume on the Bitcoin network fell 81.61% to US$1.56 million, according to CryptoSlam data.

“As expected, Azuki exploded and gave Ethereum its biggest day of sales volume of the year,” Petscher said, adding that with wash trades removed, it should be the most sales since May 2022 when Otherdeeds NFTs were minted.

Notably, CryptoSlam’s top four collections by trading volume are all Azuki-related collections. The new Azuki Elemental Beans collection saw total transactions of about US$36.36 million with the new Azuki Elementals recording US$4.87 million.

“It’s worth noting that these big volume days may be healthy, but big mints also extract liquidity from the ecosystem,” Petscher said Tuesday on Twitter. “Will we see some big secondary sales that then flow back into existing projects or will this be another cycle of liquidity being extracted?”

Asia stocks mixed, China industrial profits sink

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Chinese Premier Li Qiang. Image: Getty Images

Asia equity markets were mixed on Wednesday morning following Wall Street’s overnight rally mainly driven by rebounding home sales and strengthened consumer confidence.

However, U.S. stock futures edged lower as of 10:50 a.m. in Hong Kong. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures dipped 0.04%, S&P 500 futures slipped 0.16%, and Nasdaq Futures dropped 0.36%.

In China, profits at industrial firms sank 18.8% in the first five months of this year, on the back of a slowing post-Covid economic recovery, according to official data released Wednesday.

Premier Li Qiang said at the so-called Summer Davos Forum on Tuesday in China that the country was still on track to hit its annual growth target of around 5%. “GDP grew by 4.5% in the first quarter year-on-year, and is expected to expand faster in the second quarter than in the first,” Li said.

Elsewhere in the region, South Korea’s consumer sentiment index climbed in June to beat expectations and reach the highest since May last year.

In Australia inflation eased more than expected in May. Its monthly consumer price indicator rose 5.6% in the 12 months to May, the smallest increase since April 2022, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data showed Wednesday

“While prices have kept rising for most goods and services, many increases were smaller than we have seen in recent months,” Michelle Marquardt, head of prices statistics at the ABS, said in a Wednesday statement.

While the economic indicators out of the U.S. this week showed the economy is holding up despite inflation and higher interest rates, investors will hear more from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell when he speaks at events in Europe. Last week he said there may be more rate increases this year in the U.S.

Powell will speak at the European Central Bank Forum in Sintra, Portugal, on Wednesday and again on Thursday at the Banco de España Fourth Conference on Financial Stability in Madrid, Spain.

U.S. interest rates are now between 5% and 5.25%, the highest since 2006. The CME FedWatch Tool predicts a 76.9% chance for another 25-basis-point rate hike, and a 23.1% chance the Fed will leave rates unchanged at the next meeting on July 26.

(Updates to add South Korea data in equities section.)