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Bitcoin fell to a two-month low overnight, sliding in three of the last four sessions on nagging regulatory and security concerns after the weekend hacking of South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Coinrail. So far in 2018, bitcoin is down nearly 53 per cent, after soaring more than 1300 per cent last year.

"Bitcoin is in a liquidity vacuum at the moment. Volumes on the crypto exchanges are now below $US5 billion per day, their lowest levels since November 2017, before things got out of hand," Israel-based Mati Greenspan, senior market analyst, at eToro, said. "As the trading activity is very low, even a small amount of pressure can move the price quite drastically. Kind of like if you hit a baseball in outer space," he added.

The US Consumer Price Index increased 0.2 per cent last month, also as food prices were unchanged.


That followed a similar gain in the CPI in April. In the 12 months through May, the CPI accelerated 2.8 per cent, the biggest advance since February 2012, after rising 2.5 per cent in April.

Excluding the volatile food and energy components, the CPI rose 0.2 per cent, supported by a rebound in new motor vehicle prices and a pickup in the cost of healthcare, after edging up 0.1 per cent in April. That lifted the year-on-year increase in the so-called core CPI to 2.2 per cent, the largest rise since February 2017, from 2.1 per cent in April.

"The slow but steady upward pressure on inflation could tilt a majority of policymakers to lift their suggested interest rate forecast, possibly penciling in two additional moves in the second half of the year after almost certainly raising rates tomorrow," said Sal Guatieri, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto.

The British pound whipsawed after Prime Minister Theresa May defeated a rebellion in parliament over Brexit plans. The pound strengthened 0.3 per cent against the dollar to $US1.3424 after parliament voted to back the government on several amendments to the EU withdrawal bill. It then retraced its moves and finally settled around $US1.3373. Commodities

Some investors and analysts said a 7 per cent rally over six sessions leading up to the peak was due to fears of a strike at BHP’s Escondida, the world’s biggest copper mine. But Macquarie analyst Vivienne Lloyd said that aspect had been exaggerated.

EIA’s short term energy outlook: "Brent crude oil spot prices averaged $77 per barrel (b) in May, an increase of $5/b from the April level and the highest monthly average price since November 2014. EIA forecasts Brent spot prices will average $71/b in 2018 and $68/b in 2019. The 2019 forecast price is $2/b higher than in the May STEO.

"EIA expects West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices will average almost $7/b lower than Brent prices in 2018 and $6/b lower than Brent prices in 2019. NYMEX WTI futures and options contract values for September 2018 delivery traded during the five-day period ending June 7, 2018, suggest a range of $52/b to $81/b encompasses the market expectation for September WTI prices at the 95% confidence level." Australian Sharemarket

Genworth Mortgage Insurance shares rose 7.3 per cent to $2.65 after parent company Genworth Financial was given approval to be bought out by China Oceanwide Holdings. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the US gave the go-ahead for the $2.7 billion deal, saying there were no unresolved national security concerns.

Rio Tinto shares fell following a Deutsche Bank note on Monday that said the company would be impacted by significant headwinds in the iron ore market. Its shares were down 1.7 per cent at $85.10. BHP Billiton shares fell 1.1 per cent to $33.69 and South32 shares closed at $3.79, down 1.6 per cent. Street Talk

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