Bitcoin rose above US$45 000 on Tuesday for the first time since April 2022 as the world’s biggest and best-known cryptocurrency started 2024 with a bang buoyed by optimism around possible approval of exchange-traded spot bitcoin funds.
Bitcoin touched a 21-month peak of $45 488, having gained 154% last year in the strongest performance since 2020. It was last up 2.6% at $45 344 but remains far off the record high of $69 000 it touched in November 2021.
Ether, the coin linked to the ethereum blockchain network, was 1% higher at $2 376 on Tuesday.
Investor focus has been squarely on whether the US securities regulator will soon approve a spot bitcoin ETF, which would throw open the bitcoin market to millions more investors.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission has rejected multiple applications to launch spot bitcoin ETFs in recent years, arguing that the cryptocurrency market is vulnerable to manipulation.
In recent months, however, there have been increasing signs that regulators are prepared to sign off on at least some of the 13 proposed spot bitcoin ETFs, with expectations that the decision will likely come in early January.
Rising bets that major central banks will cut interest rates this year has also been a boon for cryptocurrencies, helping shake off the gloom that had settled over crypto markets following the collapse of FTX and other crypto-business failures in 2022.
“The crypto market is set to experience notable growth this year, with key influencing factors being the influx of investment funds from spot ETFs, bitcoin halving and a more accommodative monetary policy both in the US and worldwide,” said Jupiter Zheng, partner of liquid funds at HashKey Capital. — Ankur Banerjee and Summer Zhen, (c) 2023 Reuters