Bitcoin prices rose 16% in New York, marking bitcoin’s largest percentage gain there since December 2017.
In Asia, the digital currency topped $5,000 briefly for the first time this year.
The move in the biggest cryptocurrency by market capitalization came amid a broader rally in digital currencies but lacked a clear catalyst.
Bitcoin hit a four-month high of about $5,080 during afternoon trading in Asia, which was just after 1 a.m. EDT, according to Refinitiv, which compiles data from various cryptocurrency exchanges.
In late-afternoon trading in New York, one bitcoin bought $4,815.41, according to CoinDesk, which also tracks bitcoin.
“It took everyone by surprise, including myself,” said Dave Chapman, chief executive of ANXONE, a Hong Kong-based digital-asset exchange for professional investors, referring to the magnitude of Tuesday’s jump.
He noted, however, that given the cryptocurrency’s market capitalization of around $80 billion, it doesn’t take very large trades to cause large swings in its price.
Bitcoin’s swift ascent followed months of muted price moves.
“Japan and South Korea are two of the biggest crypto-trading nations on the planet, so it is not uncommon at all” to see sizable moves during Asian hours, said Mati Greenspan, a Tel Aviv-based senior market analyst at eToro.
Bitcoin has now surged 29% so far this year, but the cryptocurrency remains down sharply from its record of nearly $20,000 in late 2017.
The slump has forced crypto companies to retrench, and the formerly popular method of fundraising through initial coin offerings has collapsed. One of the world’s largest makers of cryptocurrency-mining equipment last month shelved its plans for an initial public offering of stock.
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