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Bitcoin makes run toward record high amid ETF exuberance

Bitcoin-to-the-moon traders are back with a vengeance as the cryptocurrency approaches its all-time high and demand jumps for bullish contracts across crypto exchanges.

The world’s largest digital token has surged some 8% over Friday and Saturday to about $62 100 — taking this month’s rally to over 40% — after Bloomberg News reported the US Securities and Exchange Commission looks poised to allow the country’s first futures-based cryptocurrency ETF.

As institutional and retail demand grows for the more than $1 trillion asset, speculators are eyeing a return to April’s $64 869 record peak while premiums are rising for derivatives betting on higher prices.

“The US was always the big prize and signals further regulatory validation and acceptance of cryptocurrencies,” said Antoni Trenchev, co-founder of crypto lender Nexo. “Momentum is clearly with Bitcoin right now and it’s only a matter of time before the April high is taken out.”

All month long, speculation of imminent ETF approval has driven up Bitcoin, helping it outperform smaller tokens to reclaim 46% of the crypto ecosystem’s total market value. An exchange-traded fund is expected to draw more interest from investors that prefer buying a familiar, regulated product over navigating digital-currency exchanges.

In a sign of rising animal spirits, the seven-day average funding rate on Bitcoin futures — the cost of keeping a bullish bet open — rose to 5% on the Binance platform. That compares with just 1.9% at the end of September in Bybt data compiled by The Block, a crypto information service.

The value of outstanding futures on crypto exchanges rebounded to $21.5 billion, compared with the $27 billion peak earlier this year, according to Bybt.

Similarly, the curve has steepened in CME futures, indicating an increasingly optimistic outlook for Bitcoin’s trajectory. The gap between December contracts and this month’s widened to 990 basis points, the most since April.

Ki Young Ju, chief executive officer at analytics firm CryptoQuant, said on Twitter prices have been driven by whales buying large amounts of the cryptocurrency through derivatives.

It all marks a shift from recent months, when Bitcoin bulls were left subdued after the May crash and attention turned to a host of other speculative manias like non-fungible tokens.

“With a well integrated ETF structure, crypto is poised to go mainstream,” said Peter Rosenstreich, head of market strategy at Swissquote Bank.

© 2021 Bloomberg

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