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For the first time since May of last year, the price of bitcoin reaches $35,000


Bitcoin extended a rally fuelled by expectations of new demand from exchange-traded funds, with the cryptocurrency reaching its highest price since May last year.

The largest digital asset rose as much as 11.5 per cent to top $35,000 and was trading at $34,800 as of 10.31am in Singapore on Tuesday, taking its year-to-date rebound from 2022’s digital-asset rout to more than 100 per cent.

The possible approval in coming weeks of the first US spot Bitcoin ETFs is stoking speculative ardour for the token.

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Asset managers BlackRock and Fidelity Investments are among those in the race to offer such products. Digital-asset bulls argue the ETFs would widen adoption of the cryptocurrency.

A US federal appeals court on Monday also formalised a victory for Grayscale Investments in its bid to create a spot Bitcoin ETF over objections from the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The SEC has so far resisted allowing ETFs that invest directly in Bitcoin, citing risks such as fraud and manipulation in the underlying market. The applications from investment titans stoked speculation that the agency would relent.

Bloomberg Intelligence ETF analyst Eric Balchunas flagged on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, that the iShares Bitcoin Trust had been listed on the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation with the ticker “$IBTC”.

BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, operates the iShares business. The DTCC undertakes clearing and settlement in US markets.

“This doesn’t mean it’s technically approved,” Mr Balchunas said in an interview.

“It’s not home free. But this is pretty much checking every box that you need to check before you launch an ETF. When we see a ticker added, those things are usually right before launch.”

Bitcoin also surged 10 per cent during intraday trading at the start of last week on ETF hype. On that occasion, an erroneous report that BlackRock had won approval to launch a fund caused the move and the rally cooled once the mistake came to light.

Ether, the second-largest token, jumped past $1,800 in Bitcoin’s slipstream on Tuesday but the performance of other coins was mixed. For instance, Solana and meme favourite Dogecoin erased much of their initial gains.

The SEC has already allowed ETFs that hold Bitcoin and Ether futures. But the agency overall has intensified a cryptocurrency clampdown after last year’s market crash and blow-ups such as the bankruptcy of the FTX exchange, whose co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried is on trial for fraud.

Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Elliott Stein and James Seyffart have said “approval of a spot Bitcoin ETF looks inevitable” and that a batch of funds would probably be given the green light, although the timing remains uncertain.

Bitcoin remains below its 2021 peak of about $69,000, squeezed by rising interest rates that hit demand for risky assets. The token’s correlations with assets such as stocks, bonds and gold have ebbed lately, stoking questions about whether mainstream investors have disengaged.

“Liquidity is somewhat better than before,” said Justin d’Anethan, head of business development in the Asia-Pacific region at cryptocurrency market maker Keyrock.

“Prices have now recuperated and with it a certain amount of liquidity – still nothing compared to the euphoria of 2020 to 2021, though.”

Updated: October 25, 2023, 8:15 AM

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