March 3, 2024

The price of bitcoin rose above $45,000 for the first time since Jan. 11, when trading of U.S. spot bitcoin ETFs began.

Bitcoin was last higher by nearly 3% at $45,391.18, according to Coin Metrics, pulling crypto-related stocks higher, although ether hovered at the flat line.

The flagship cryptocurrency’s move came as shares of New York Community Bancorp extended losses Thursday. Worries about U.S. regional banks have worked in bitcoin’s favor since last year’s regional banking crisis, when investors who lost confidence in the banks turned to the cryptocurrency as a hedge against uncertainty.

Traders also point our that bitcoin accumulation by large investors, known as “whales,” has increased in the past two weeks, when the cryptocurrency’s price has been stuck below December and January highs.

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Bitcoin rises to its highest level in nearly a month

“What’s happening now appears to be large investors – whales, institutions, others – accumulating assets ahead of what many believe will be a strong bull cycle through the end of the year,” said Bartosz Lipiński, CEO of crypto trading platform Cube.Exchange. “One only needs to look at the number of bitcoin wallets holding more than 1,000 BTC, which has risen significantly over the last two weeks and now includes an additional 73 participants that previously weren’t holding such a significant amount of the cryptocurrency.”

Over the past two weeks, bitcoin’s average daily trading volumes fell 29.6% week-over-week, JPMorgan pointed out in a note Thursday, while ether trading volumes decreased 40%.

Shares of crypto exchange Coinbase jumped about 9%, while bitcoin proxy Microstrategy added 11%. In the mining group, CleanSpark and Riot Platforms advanced around 9% each, while Marathon Digital rose 13% and Iris Energy surged 19%.

—CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed reporting

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