Bitcoin was headed on Friday for its worst week since March as a rout in global bond markets sent yields flying and sparked a sell-off in riskier assets.

The world’s biggest cryptocurrency slipped as much as 6 per cent to $44,451 before recovering most of its losses.

It was last trading down 1 per cent at $46,671, on course for a drop of almost 20 per cent this week, which would be its heaviest weekly loss since March last year, when fears over the novel coronavirus caused havoc in financial markets.

The sell-off echoed that in equity markets, where European stocks tumbled as much as 1.5 per cent, with concerns over lofty valuations also hammering demand. Asian stocks fell by the most in nine months.

“When flight to safety mode is on, it is the riskier investments that get pulled first,” Denis Vinokourov of London-based cryptocurrency exchange BeQuant wrote in a note.

Bitcoin has risen about 60 per cent from the start of the year, hitting an all-time high of $58,354 this month as mainstream companies such as Tesla Inc and Mastercard Inc embraced cryptocurrencies.

Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust, which has seen huge inflows amid the heightened interest in cryptocurrencies and manages almost $33 billion in assets, was down 5.5 per cent versus its previous close at $45.63.

The Purpose Bitcoin ETF, which became this month the world’s first exchange traded fund physically settled by bitcoin, last traded at $7.41 versus a net asset value of $9.36.

Its stunning gains in recent months have led to concerns from investment banks over sky-high valuations and calls from governments and financial regulators for tighter regulation.

Cathie Wood, CEO of Ark investments came out in support of Bitcoin on Wednesday, arguing in an interview with Bloomberg that Bitcoin has trillions of dollars in market cap potential.

“When you think the market cap of Bitcoin is roughly $950 billion, think about that in the context of an Apple,” she said. “It’s less than half of Apple’s valuation and here we’re talking about the reserve currency of the crypto asset world.”

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