SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) – There’s one asset escaping the pounding from the spreading coronavirus: Bitcoin.
The largest cryptocurrency rose as high as US$9,142.80 on Tuesday (JAN 28), 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.”
“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 on 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 US$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 US$3,000 and spiking to nearly US$14,000 in June before ending December at US$7,158.