ryptocurrency mania rolled on today after the price of Bitcoin smashed through more milestones just hours after trading above $20,000 for the first time.
The dizzying ascent of the controversial digital token has been credited on a surge of interest from larger institutions, particularly given the currency’s perceived appeal as a hedge against inflation that could follow massive government spending in the US.
The price of Bitcoin is up by more than 220% this year, with the currency hitting $23,655 this morning after ticking off the $20,000 landmark only yesterday afternoon.
Bitcoin has a 12-year history of steep ascents and steeper drops, with a cataclysmic 70% crash that followed 2017’s retail investor-fuelled high still fresh in the memory. This latest rally has gathered pace after PayPal said it would allow Bitcoin’s use on its network.
For those seeking more conventional trading, the London Stock Exchange provided sharp contrast with the cryptocurrency excitement. The FTSE 100 index was down by 3.74 points at 6,567.17 despite heavyweight mining stocks including Anglo American and BHP helping to prop up the top flight with gains of more than 2%.
Vodafone was the biggest faller, down 4p to 126.76p, after shares began trading without the right to its latest dividend payment.
Hopes for a Brexit deal kept the FTSE 250 index on the front foot, with more gains for Dixons Carphone after yesterday’s results helping the domestic-focused benchmark to improve 8.71 points to 20,105.27.
Outsourcing giant Serco also gained ground after steering investors towards a slightly higher profits figure in 2021. The operator of the Government’s Test and Trace call centre and testing site programmes said it won’t pay a dividend this year and is setting aside £8 million to return furlough support and make one-off payments to around 50,000 front-line staff.
Shares rose 5.3p to 125.3p, but analysts at Jefferies said the update supported its view that shares should be trading at 170p.
Another FTSE 250 stock, Avon Rubber, came off the boil after the supplier of respiratory and ballistic protection systems for the world’s militaries and first responders revealed a delay in the approval process for US defence contracts.
CEO Paul McDonald said the business continued to perform strongly, but shares tumbled 510p to 3,230p. They had been at 4,625p at the end of last month.