Off The Wire
Bitcoin closes in on record high, day after U.S. ETF debut
LONDON (Reuters) - Bitcoin hovered just below its record highs on Wednesday and the first U.S. bitcoin futures-based exchange-traded fund (ETF) looked set to open firmer after surging on its debut on Tuesday.
The world's leading cryptocurrency was at $64,257 at 1236 GMT, modestly higher on the day and within a short jump of the all-time high of $64,895.22 it hit on April 14 this year.
It reached as high as $64,499 on Tuesday, late in the U.S. session.
Tuesday was the first day of trading for the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF -- a development that market participants say is likely to drive investment into the digital asset.
The ETF closed up 2.59% at $41.94 on Tuesday, with around $1 billion worth of shares trading hands on Intercontinental Exchange Inc's ICE.N Arca exchange.
It was trading around 0.2% higher before the market opened.
Trading appeared to be dominated by smaller investors and high-frequency trading firms, analysts said, noting the absence of large block trades indicated that institutions were likely staying on the sidelines.
James Quinn, managing partner at Q9 Capital, a Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency private wealth manager, said the launch of the new product was "meaningful" for bitcoin.
Theoretically, any licensed brokerage firm in the United States which wants to take on this ETF can do so as easily as any other ETF, which "should make it available to a lot of folks", said Quinn.
While the ETF is based on bitcoin futures, Quinn said the trades and hedges underpinning the ETF means activity will flow into the spot market and the bitcoin price.
Crypto ETFs have launched this year in Canada and Europe amid surging interest in digital assets. VanEck and Valkyrie are among fund managers pursuing U.S.-listed ETF products, although Invesco on Monday dropped its plans for a futures-based ETF.
Ether, the world's no. 2 cryptocurrency, was up 1.5% on the day at $3,926, near to a six-week high, but some way off its all-time high of $4,380, hit on May 12.
Graphic: Bitcoin boom,
Reporting by Alun John in Hong Kong, Tom Westbrook in Singapore and Elizabeth Howcroft in London; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and Gareth Jones