Europe's financial stocks wilted after a delayed vote on tax reform in the U.S. deflated a rally in the sector, driving regional benchmarks to start December with a dip.
Euro zone stocks fell 0.6 percent while Britain's FTSE, which has suffered from a strong sterling this week, slid 0.1 percent.
Financials were the biggest weight after the U.S. Senate delayed a vote on a tax reform bill that investors anticipate will be beneficial for banks.
Lloyds, Barclays, and BNP Paribas led the index down.
Oil and gas stocks stayed buoyant, with Shell, Total and BP leading sector gains as OPEC's extension of supply cuts continued to boost crude prices.
Healthcare stocks outperformed thanks to a Morgan Stanley upgrade boosting UCB by 3.3 percent while Novo Nordisk , flagged as one of the strategists' favourites in the pharma space, gained 2.8 percent.
British pharma company Indivior also shot up 11.7 percent after its opioid addiction drug got approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Struggling French telecom company Altice - whose shares sank 59 percent in November after disappointing results - rose 4.6 percent after the company said it would sell data centre and Swiss telecoms businesses in a bid to reduce its 50 billion euro debt pile.
Meanwhile shares in Dialog Semiconductor, hammered on Thursday by a press report Apple would in-source its power chip design, removing a crucial supplier relationship for the German firm, recovered to trade up 4 percent.
Bitcoin tops $10,000, marks 10-fold increase in 2017
Virtual currency bitcoin soared to an all-time high above $10,000 on Wednesday on major exchanges and digital currency indexes, including the widely followed Luxembourg-based trading platform BitStamp.At 0600 GMT, it was quoted around $10,115 on BitStamp, coming sharply off a high of $10,743.61, which was a rise of more than 5 percent on the day.Created in 2009, bitcoin uses encryption and a blockchain database that enables the fast and anonymous transfer of funds outside of a traditional centralized payment system.It has increased more than 10-fold in value so far this year, posting the largest gain of all asset classes, amid increased institutional demand for crypto-currencies as financial and mainstream use has expanded.But sceptics say it a classic speculative bubble with no relation to real financial market activity or the economy, most famously JPMorgan boss Jamie Dimon who labelled it a fraud.Bitcoin crossed $10,000 on smaller exchanges such as the CEX.IO exchange, and the crypto-currency index coinmarketcap.com long before it hit the milestone on BitStamp.“The price rise is a continuation of a long-term trend which has been driven by the speculative activity in Japan and also with institutional investors dipping their toes into the cryptocurrency market," said Thomas Glucksmann, head of marketing at Hong Kong exchange Gatecoin."The recent surge is just part of that additional element of excitement amongst speculative traders and a growing contingent of liquid traders that have a long-term optimistic view on … this technology."Sol Lederer, blockchain director at U.S. technology company LOOMIA, said this surge will help long-time bitcoiners finally feel vindicated that their currency, which had been ridiculed for years, was at last being taken seriously."Bitcoin's future is still uncertain; it faces the same serious technical challenges it has for years and faces stiff competition from newer, more sophisticated blockchains. But even if it were to crash, it's apparent that bitcoin is here to stay."In some emerging markets, bitcoin had hit well over $10,000 previously. In Zimbabwe, bitcoin traded at $17,875 on Monday. Tuesday's price in Zimbabwe was not available.In South Korean exchanges, bitcoin was already close to $11,000 or higher early this week.It traded at nearly $12,000 on Tuesday on bithumb after hitting the $10,000 milestone on Monday. At Coinone, it traded at near $12,700, and it was up 10 percent in 24 hours at $12,792 on Korbit.Bitcoin has been boosted as exchanges such as the CME Group Inc and the Chicago Board Options Exchange announced plans to launch futures contracts for the currency.“I’m sure there will be a few dips over the next weeks and months as the cryptocurrency market is quite illiquid so there’s bound to be volatility," Gatecoin's Glucksmann said.Mike Novogratz, a former macro hedge fund manager at Fortress Investment Group, said in a Reuters Investment Summit earlier this month that mainstream institutional investors were about six to eight months from adopting bitcoin.But many leading bankers, including Credit Suisse Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam, have expressed scepticism about bitcoin."From what we can identify, the only reason today to buy or sell Bitcoin is to make money, which is the very definition of speculation and the very definition of a bubble," Thiam said earlier this month.
Turkish economy to grow above 6 pct in 2017: OECD
Turkey's economy is expected to expand above six percent by the end of this year, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on Tuesday."Economic growth is estimated to have exceeded six percent in 2017, driven by strong fiscal stimulus and an export market recovery," the OECD said."It is projected to edge down but to stay between 4.5 percent and five percent in 2018 and 2019," it said. "Consumer price inflation remains far above the target and disinflation is projected to be slow."The increase follows the International Monetary Fund upping Turkey’s 2017 growth forecast 2.6 percentage points on Oct. 10, the World Bank raising its forecast 0.4 percentage points on Oct. 19, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) lifting it by 2.6 percentage points on Nov. 7 and the EU increasing by 2.3 percent on Nov.11."As fiscal stimulus is scheduled to be withdrawn in 2018, against the backdrop of continuing regional and domestic uncertainties, strengthening business and household sentiment will be essential for maintaining growth momentum," the OECD said.Turkey's economy expanded beyond forecasts in the first quarter (5.2 percent) and second quarter (5.1 percent) of this year, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat).The Turkish economy grew 5.2 percent in 2014, 6.1 percent in 2015 and 2.9 percent last year.As noted in the country's medium-term economic program announced on Sept. 27, the government is targeting growth of 5.5 percent this year as well as through to 2020."Effective progress with the announced structural reforms, fiscal transparency and disinflation goals of the Medium-Term Economic Programme 2018-20 would bolster confidence and boost domestic and foreign private business investment," the organization added.On Monday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said it would not be a surprise if the Turkish economy grew by around seven percent in 2017.