Cryptocurrency surges past $11000 amid trade worries

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A man passes in front of a Bitcoin exchange shop in Krakow, Poland.

Artur Widak | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Bitcoin soared 9% on Monday, performing like a safe haven asset as it edged past $11,000 for the first time since around mid-July.

The price of the world’s largest cryptocurrency climbed as high as $11,860, according to CoinDesk data, hitting a more than 3-week high. Bitcoin’s value now accounts for nearly 70% of the global crypto market, according to CoinMarketCap.

Global stock markets on the other hand have been sliding lower on the back of renewed trade uncertainty, after President Donald Trump said last week that Washington would impose 10% tariffs on another $300 billion worth of Chinese goods.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index slipped 1.6% on Monday while the MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan plummeted 2.5%. Dow futures meanwhile were off by about 100 points.

Cryptocurrency surges past $11000 amid trade worries

Analysts have previously argued the case that bitcoin could be a safe haven asset, with investors having flocked to the digital asset in the past on the back of an escalation in U.S.-Sino tensions.

“Bitcoin has many use cases and one of the most important is as a form of digital gold,” Charles Hayter, CEO of digital currency comparison platform CryptoCompare, told CNBC by email on Monday. “We have seen bitcoin jump before on macro uncertainty as it becomes a conduit and flight-to-safety asset.”

Yuan depreciation

Bitcoin’s jump in value also comes as China allowed the yuan to break the seven-per-dollar level for the first time in 11 years, triggering fears of a potential currency war.

The yuan fell after China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China, set the currency’s daily midpoint at 6.9225 per dollar, its weakest level since December last year.

Simon Peters, an analyst at trading platform eToro, said Chinese investors could be seeking to diversify as the yuan  depreciates.

“Given that Chinese investors make up a large proportion of crypto investors, there’s a strong possibility some are backing bitcoin’s chances against the yuan,” Peters said in a note on Monday.

The cryptocurrency has been on the rise in 2019, doubling in price in the last three months alone. It’s still below a year-to-date high of $13,880, and a long way short of the near-$20,000 all-time record it set in late 2017.

Bitcoin’s rise has been helped in part by news of huge companies like Facebook getting involved in the space, with the social network having announced plans for a cryptocurrency called Libra back in June.

While the two digital currencies are very different — and Facebook’s hasn’t even launched yet — experts have said that Facebook working on its own token could help legitimize bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The Libra project has however been panned by regulators worldwide, concerned by the risks it may pose to the financial system.

Facebook hasn’t been the only company to signal its interest in cryptocurrencies. Financial services giant Fidelity has set up its own unit devoted to digital assets while Starbucks, Microsoft and New York Stock Exchange owner Intercontinental Exchange have backed a cryptocurrency-focused venture called Bakkt.


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