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Bitcoin slumps, slamming brakes on New Year rally – Reuters

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LONDON/TOKYO (Reuters) – Bitcoin fell sharply on Monday, losing ground from a record high of $34,800 touched a day earlier, with traders citing volatility in highly leveraged futures markets.

FILE PHOTO: A representation of virtual currency Bitcoin is seen in this illustration taken November 19, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Bitcoin fell more than 14% after earlier touching as high as $33,670, wiping out more than half its 20% rally from New Year’s Eve to a record $34,800 on Sunday.

Bitcoin was last down 8% at $30,542.

A functioning cryptocurrency derivatives market has developed since 2017, with offshore exchanges still offering highly leveraged trading. Moves in such markets can have an outsized effect on bitcoin’s price.

“It’s the unwinding of some of that leverage,” said Richard Galvin of crypto fund Digital Asset Capital Management.

Bitcoin’s record high came less than three weeks after it crossed $20,000 for the first time, on Dec. 16. The world’s biggest cryptocurrency more than quadrupled in price last year.

Traders said bitcoin’s drop on Monday was not unusual for the volatile asset, whose wild price swings have in part prevented it from becoming widely used as a currency.

“It’s still an unavoidably volatile asset by its nature,” said Joseph Edwards of crypto brokerage Enigma Securities.

“For the most part, this looks like a purely technical move, signalled and caused by short-term euphoria,” he added.

Smaller coins that often move in tandem with bitcoin also fell, though not as sharply. Ethereum, the second biggest, dropped 1% after touching a 3-year high of $1,170.

Fuelling bitcoin’s rally has been the perception it can act as a hedge against the risk of inflation as governments and central banks turn on the stimulus taps to counter the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Some of it is reflecting the fear of a weaker dollar,” Bank of Singapore currency analyst Moh Siong Sim said of its most recent rally.

Still, gold rose 2%, underlining bitcoin’s patchy correlation with the traditional inflation hedge.

Bitcoin’s advance has also reflected expectations it will become a mainstream payment method. Its potential for quick gains has also attracted demand from larger U.S. investors.

Reporting by Tom Wilson in London and Kevin Buckland In Tokyo; Additional reporting by Tom Westbrook and Alun John; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell, Raju Gopalakrishnan, Bernadette Baum and Alex Richardson

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Godiva closing 128 stores in North America, including all 11 in Canada – CBC.ca

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COVID-19 has been far from sweet for Godiva, which has decided to sell or close its stores across North America.

The luxury chocolatier says 128 brick and mortar locations, including 11 in Canada, will shut by the end of March.

The chain has 4 locations in Toronto, one in nearby Mississauga, and two in Ottawa. It also has two in the Vancouver area, one in Winnipeg, and one near Montreal.

The company declined to say how many jobs will be affected by the decision.

Godiva will maintain retail operations across Europe, the Middle East and China.

The closures mark a reversal from its strategy announced in 2019 to open 2,000 cafe locations worldwide, including more than 400 in North America.

It says a key part of its moves has been to focus on retail food and pharmacy locations as well as online.

It noted that in-person shopping at its own stores has waned because of the pandemic and changes in consumer shopping behaviour.

“Godiva is already available in many retailers in North America and we will continue to increase our presence there while always upholding the premium quality, taste, and innovation that we have been renowned for since we were founded in Brussels in 1926,” stated CEO Nurtac Afridi.

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Mayor Tory discusses stay-at-home order enforcement, Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine delay – CityNews Toronto

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Mayor Tory discusses stay-at-home order enforcement, Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine delay  CityNews TorontoView Full coverage on Google News



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Trudeau speaks to Pfizer CEO as delays to vaccine shipments get worse – BNN

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OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla by phone Thursday, the same day the company informed Canada delays to its shipments of COVID-19 vaccines are going to be even worse than previously thought.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander now overseeing the vaccine logistics for the Public Health Agency of Canada, said last week a factory expansion at Pfizer’s Belgium plant was going to slow production, cutting Canada’s deliveries over four weeks in half.

In exchange, Pfizer expects to be able to ship hundreds of millions more doses worldwide over the rest of 2021.

Tuesday, Fortin said Canada would receive 80 per cent of the previously expected doses this week, nothing at all next week, and about half the promised deliveries in the first two weeks of February.

Thursday, he said the doses delivered in the first week of February will only be 79,000, one one-fifth of what was once expected. Fortin doesn’t know yet what will come the week after, but overall, Canada’s doses over three weeks are going to be just one-third of what had been planned.

Trudeau has been under pressure to call Bourla, as the delayed doses force provinces to cancel vaccination appointments and reconsider timing for second doses.

Fortin said some provinces may be hit even harder than others because of limits on the way the Pfizer doses can be split up for shipping. The vaccine is delicate and must be kept ultra frozen until shortly before injecting it. The company packs and ships specialized coolers, with GPS thermal trackers, directly to provincial vaccine sites.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said earlier this week he doesn’t blame the federal government for the dose delays but wanted Trudeau to do more to push back about it.

“If I was in (Trudeau’s) shoes … I’d be on that phone call every single day. I’d be up that guy’s yin-yang so far with a firecracker he wouldn’t know what hit him,” he said of Pfizer’s executives.

Trudeau informed Ford and other premiers of the call with Bourla during a regular teleconference to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic. Until Thursday, all calls between the federal cabinet and Pfizer had been handled by Procurement Minister Anita Anand.

Ford also spoke to Pfizer Canada CEO Cole Pinnow Wednesday.

Trudeau didn’t suggest the call with Bourla made any difference to the delays, and noted Canada is not the only country affected.

Europe, which on the weekend thought its delayed doses would only be for one week after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke to Bourla, now seems poised to be affected longer. Italy is so angry it is threatening to sue the U.S.-based drugmaker for the delays.

Mexico said this week it is only getting half its expected shipment this week and nothing at all for the next three weeks. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain also reported delays getting doses. Pfizer Canada spokeswoman Christina Antoniou said more countries were affected but wouldn’t say which ones.

Fortin said Pfizer has promised to deliver four million doses to Canada by the end of March and that is not going to change with the delay. With the current known delivery schedule, the company will have to ship more than 3.1 million doses over 7 1/2 weeks to meet that commitment.

Deliveries from Moderna, the other company that has a COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Canada, are not affected. Canada has received about 176,000 doses from Moderna to date, with deliveries arriving every three weeks.

Moderna has promised two million doses by the end of March.

Both vaccines require first doses and then boosters several weeks later for full effectiveness. Together Pfizer and Moderna intend to ship 20 million doses to Canada in the spring, and 46 million between July and September. With no other vaccines approved, that means Canada will get enough doses to vaccinate the entire population with two doses by the end of September.

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