Bitcoin was higher Thursday, extending this year's longest winning streak to seven days. Investors bid up the cryptocurrency as a potential hedge against future inflation despite data showing little to worry about from the current pace of price increases.
As of 14:39 coordinated universal time (9:39 a.m. ET), bitcoin (BTC) was changing hands around $56,849, up 1.6% on the day near a two-week high. The price is approaching the all-time-high of $58,332 reached last month, and some analysts predict this rally could push bitcoin past $60,000 for the first time.
The European Central Bank on Thursday said it would accelerate a plan to buy as much as €1.85 trillion ($2.2 trillion) of bonds to keep bond yields from rising so fast that the region's economic recovery is derailed. The announcement came a day after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $1.9 trillion relief bill, sending the bill to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.
The largest cryptocurrency is viewed by a growing number of investors as a hedge against the potential inflationary impact of trillions of dollars of coronavirus-related economic stimulus, pumped into financial markets over the past year from governments and central banks around the world. But a recent climb in government bond yields in the U.S. and Europe had raised the question of whether central banks would tighten monetary policy to address the underlying inflation concerns, or merely use bond purchases to push yields back down. Bond yields move in opposition to their price, so extra purchasing demand for the securities usually puts downward pressure on the yields.
"With the floodgates now open in terms of new liquidity for the market, we expect fresh record highs to be set for the major cryptoassets in short order," Simon Peters, an analyst with the trading platform eToro, said in emailed comments.
The cryptocurrency's price has almost doubled already this year after quadrupling in 2020 and doubling the year before that. The performance has garnered the attention of big investors because it's been so starkly superior to that of U.S. stocks, where the Standard & Poor's 500 Index is up just 0.7% on a year-to-date basis. Wall Street heavyweight Goldman Sachs has ranked bitcoin as the year's best-performing asset category, and the firm's chief operating officer, John Waldron, recently said that "demand is rising" from clients.
On Wednesday, a soft U.S. reading on consumer price increases for the month of February allayed any concern that higher inflation is imminent, prompting a drop in 10-year U.S. Treasury yields to around 1.5% and sparking a rally in assets viewed as risky, including stocks.
Despite its recent popularity as an inflation hedge, bitcoin gained, too, since it's still usually seen as a risky asset, due to the 12-year-old digital asset's notorious price volatility.
"Worries over inflation eased as consumer prices rose lower than expectations, causing markets to rebound," Lennard Neo, head of research for the cryptocurrency-focused Stack Funds, wrote Thursday in a weekly report. "Bitcoin is no exception as its upward trajectory remains strong."
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