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No virus woes for Bitcoin as it climbs to highest since November

The largest cryptocurrency rose as high as $9,142.80 on Tuesday, a level last seen early Nov.

Bloomberg|
Last Updated: Jan 28, 2020, 01.11 PM IST
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The increases come after last week’s poor performance in the run up to Lunar New Year celebrations, which some participants expected to trigger a slowdown in trading.
By Joanna Ossinger

There’s one asset escaping the pounding from the spreading coronavirus: Bitcoin.

The largest cryptocurrency rose as high as $9,142.80 on Tuesday, a level last seen early November. Other coins rallied as well, with the Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index gaining as much as 1.7 per cent to more than a two-month high.

The increases come after last week’s poor performance in the run up to Lunar New Year celebrations, which some participants expected to trigger a slowdown in trading.

Potential explanations for the rally include Bitcoin’s potential new safe-haven status amid risk-off moves fueled by the spread of the virus. JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou last week said that options on the cryptocurrency are “off to a decent start.”

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“Some hedge funds who do not necessarily have a fundamental view on Bitcoin direction could see opportunities in trading volatility,” Panigirtzoglou wrote in a note Friday. “The CME’s reputation and credibility in US derivatives markets more broadly could be a substantial advantage in attracting those potential market participants.”

Nomura Securities International’s Charlie McElligott in a note Monday pointed to US five-year real yields at the most negative since April 2017 “acting as a major bullish catalyst for gold and Bitcoin.”

Of course, Bitcoin is also famously volatile, having gone parabolic in late 2017 to reach about $19,000, before tumbling back over the course of the next year. It had quite a ride even in 2019, having started the year just above $3,000 and spiking to nearly $14,000 in June before ending December at $7,158.

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