Bitcoin plummets as cryptocurrencies suffer in market turmoil


By Tom Wilson

LONDON, March 12 (Reuters) - Bitcoin plummeted on Thursday amid wild volatility, with traders citing a sell-off across global markets as fears of the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic take hold.

The biggest cryptocurrency slumped as much as 24% during morning trading before clawing back some of its losses. It was last down 18% at $6,500, still on course for its biggest daily loss in five years.

It has lost around 30% of its value in the last five days, outpacing sharp losses for assets from stocks to oil as the pandemic wreaks havoc on the daily life of millions.

"We've seen de-risking across all asset markets," said Jamie Farquhar, portfolio manager at London-based crypto firm NKB. "Bitcoin is certainly not immune to that."

Global stocks plunged into a bear market and oil slumped on Thursday after U.S. President Donald Trump banned travel from Europe to stem the coronavirus.

With traders citing a rush away from risky assets across all asset classes, bitcoin's fall has undermined arguments that it acts as a safe haven in times of geopolitical stress.

The slump has also underlined nagging questions over bitcoin's practicality as a currency. Prone to wild and often inexplicable price swings, it has failed to take off as a means of payment and is used mainly a speculative token.

Bitcoin BTC=BTSP had risen by nearly half in the first six weeks of the year as investors bet that a combination of arcane tech factors in its code and expectations of mainstream acceptance were leading to a repricing.

(Reporting by Tom Wilson; Editing by Tommy Reggiori Wilkes and Alison Williams)

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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