Bitcoin Tumbles Over 9 Percent, Smaller Tokens Take a Hit as Coronavirus Variant Shakes Markets


Bitcoin fell more than nine percent on Friday, dragging the smaller coin down after a new potentially vaccine-resistant coronavirus variant was discovered, with investors dumping riskier assets for the perceived security of bonds, the yen and the dollar.

Bitcoin, the largest digital currency, fell 9.2 percent to $53,551 (about Rs 40,19,200), its lowest since October 10. second largest cryptocurrency ether Investors gave up on the cryptocurrency, falling more than 13% to its lowest level in a month.

Bitcoin, whose 13-year life has been filled with bouts of extreme volatility, was on track for its biggest one-day drop since September 20. Around $70,000 (approx. Rs. 52,53,700) earlier this month.

The coronavirus variant, found in South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong, has an unusual combination of mutations and may be able to evade the immune response or make it more transmissible, scientists said.

“The spread of (variants), especially to other countries, could further reduce investor appetite,” said Yuya Hasegawa at Tokyo-based exchange BitBank. “The upside of BTC is likely to be limited and the market should be prepared for further losses.”

Bitcoin hit an all-time high of $69,000 (about Rs 51,78,700) earlier this month as more large investors embraced the cryptocurrency, many of whom were drawn to its alleged inflation-resistant properties.

Others have piled into digital tokens on the promise of quick profits, a draw that has been fueled by record low or negative interest rates. Yet bitcoin’s volatility remains, raising questions about its suitability as a stable store of value.

Ether was at $3,924 (approximately Rs 2,94,500). That’s down about 20 percent from its record high hit on November 10.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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