Bitcoin tops $68,000 as it nears 2021 all-time high

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Omar Marques | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Bitcoin jumped to start the week, edging even closer to its all-time high after the rally took a breather over the weekend.

The flagship cryptocurrency was last higher by nearly 9% at $68,321.38, according to Coin Metrics. At its high during the day, it rose to as much as $68,577.00, its highest level since November 2021 — the last time it reached a record. Ether advanced more than 4% to $3,633.90.

Both coins are coming off their best week in almost a year — bitcoin gained about 21% and ether 16% — but paused their run over the weekend as the market digested two days of steep outflows from the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) that were offset by inflows into other “newborn” bitcoin exchange-traded funds.

“With the birth of these nine new ETFs the big moves now tend to take place during the normal trading week rather than the weekends,” said Antoni Trenchev, co-founder of crypto exchange Nexo.

“What we’re seeing today … might well be a rerun of early last week when bitcoin surged $10,000 in the space of a couple of days,” he added. “We’re in that sort of environment when a day or two of sideways consolidation can precede explosive price action thanks to the voracious demand of these new spot ETFs.”

Bitcoin lifted other crypto tokens, especially meme coins. Dogecoin surged 18%, while Shiba Inu coin rocketed 54%. Analysts point to them as evidence that retail investors, who have been absent for much of the recent crypto rally, are starting to return to the crypto market. Last week, meme tokens’ weekly trade volume surged to their highest level since late 2021, according to crypto data provider Kaiko.

Some crypto equities rode the bitcoin wave, such as Coinbase and Microstrategy, which rose 11% and 23.6%, respectively. Miners sat the rally out, however, giving back earlier gains as the short-term effect of the upcoming halving in April — when mining companies’ revenue will be slashed — weighed on investors. CleanSpark and Cipher Mining dropped more than 7% each, while Iris Energy and Marathon Digital each dipped nearly 5% and Riot Platforms slid almost 7%.

Some analysts have suggested that while bitcoin could keep rising in the short term, it may cool in the next few weeks, as unrealized profit margins approach extreme levels. Bitcoin’s realized price is sitting at just about $42,700, according to CryptoQuant.

Nevertheless, long-term investors are confident that the combination of increasing demand for bitcoin through the new U.S. ETFs and a tighter supply expected after the April halving event will push the price of bitcoin to a new all-time high.

Crypto has also been getting a bid from the stock market, where the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite reached an all-time high on Friday, becoming the last of the major stock indexes to hit a record close this year.

David Duong, head of institutional research at Coinbase, said that although March could be a month of sideways grinding for bitcoin, the cryptocurrency is benefiting from an AI- and blockchain technology-driven productivity boom he expects is here to stay.

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