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Bitcoin bursts above US$68,000, record high comes into view

An advertisement for bitcoin is displayed on a building in Hong Kong on Nov. 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kin Cheung An advertisement for bitcoin is displayed on a building in Hong Kong on Nov. 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kin Cheung
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LONDON/SINGAPORE -

Bitcoin rallied to a two-year high on Monday, breaking above US$68,000 as a wave of money carried it within striking distance of record levels.

The price hit a session high of US$68,580 and was last at US$68,161. Bitcoin hit a record US$68,999.99 in November 2021.

The largest cryptocurrency by market value has gained 50 per cent this year and most of the rise has come in the last few weeks when inflows into U.S.-listed bitcoin funds have surged.

Spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds were approved in the United States earlier this year. Their launch opened the way for new large investors and has re-ignited enthusiasm and momentum reminiscent of the run up to record levels in 2021.

"The flows are not drying up as investors feel more confident the higher price appears to go," said Markus Thielen, head of research at crypto analytics house 10x Research in Singapore.

Net flows into the 10 largest U.S. spot bitcoin funds reached US$2.17 billion in the week to March 1, with more than half of that going into BlackRock's iShares Bitcoin Trust, according to LSEG data.

Smaller rival ether has hitched a ride on speculation that it too may soon have exchange-traded funds driving inflows. It's up 50 per cent year-to-date and by Monday was trading at two-year highs, up 2.6 per cent on the day at US$3,518.

The rally has come in tandem with records tumbling on stock indexes from Japan's Nikkei to the S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq and with volatility gauges in equities and foreign exchange turning lower.

"In a world where Nasdaq is making new all-time highs, crypto is going to perform well as bitcoin remains a high-volatility tech proxy and liquidity thermometer," said Brent Donnelly, trader and president at analysis firm Spectra Markets.

"We are back to a 2021-style market where everything goes up and everyone is having fun."

(Editing by Shri Navaratnam, Louise Heavens and Sandra Maler)

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