Bitcoin rises above $29,000 after climbing 50% in December

The world's biggest cryptocurrency has quadrupled in value over the course of the year

FILE PHOTO: Representations of virtual currency Bitcoin are seen in this picture illustration taken taken March 13, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo
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Bitcoin vaulted above $29,000 to reach yet another record level on the last day of 2020, showing no signs of slowing down its huge December rally.

The largest cryptocurrency by market cap climbed to as high as $29,292 before pulling back slightly to trade at $29,150.49 as of 8.18am UAE time on Thursday. It has advanced almost 50 per cent in December, on track for its biggest monthly gain since May 2019.

“Key to this rally is that it has been sustained over several weeks,” said Matt Long, head of distribution and prime products with crypto brokerage OSL in Hong Kong. “If we do see a break to the downside, it will be instructive on the direction of first-quarter flows whether we see institutions continue to buy on a potential dip.”

Bitcoin has now quadrupled in value this year amid the global coronavirus pandemic, while the wider Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index tracking the largest digital currencies is up about 280% as rival coins such as Ether have also rallied.

The latest price surge continues to divide opinion between those who view cryptocurrencies as a hedge against dollar weakness and inflation risk, and others who question Bitcoin’s validity as an asset class given its speculative nature and boom-and-bust cycles.

“Lots of things are being validated in my view,” including Bitcoin’s role in finance and as a store of value, said Vijay Ayyar, head of business development with crypto exchange Luno in Singapore. “Bitcoin is now a real alternative.”

That said, Bitcoin’s massive December rally also has at least one technical indicator flashing red, suggesting the coin is “close to a top”, Ayyar said. The digital asset is well into overbought territory according to its relative strength indicator.

Regulatory concerns also remain a wider factor for crypto investors. The Securities and Exchange Commission this month accused Ripple Labs and its top executives of misleading investors in affiliated token XRP. While Ripple plans to challenge the accusation in the courts, the development underscores the prospect of stricter oversight of digital assets.

XRP has plummeted almost 70 per cent this month and faces further pressure with Coinbase the latest exchange to announce plans to suspend trading in the token. Coinbase also faces a proposed class-action lawsuit over the commissions the exchange collected for selling the token.

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