February 26, 2024

Bitcoin marched higher to end the week, with its price breaching the $48,000 level at one point for the first time since spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds began trading.

The flagship cryptocurrency was last higher by 4.6% at $47,587.37, according to Coin Metrics. Ether advanced 2.69% to $2,492.97.

Earlier, bitcoin rose to as high as $48,207.78 for the first time since Jan. 11, when the price momentarily touched $49,058.48 in volatile trading following the launch of spot bitcoin ETFs. Before that, bitcoin had not seen the $48,000 level since March 2022.

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Bitcoin returns to January highs

Bitcoin trading volume and sentiment have been suppressed over the past two weeks as investors worried about big outflows from the Grayscale Bitcoin ETF and a deeper pullback in its price ahead of an expected rip higher this year.

Nevertheless, bitcoin finished the week up 10.76% for its best week since Dec. 8. Ether finished higher by 8.46%, making this week its best since Jan. 12. Coin Metrics measures a week in crypto, which trades 24 hours a day, from the 4:00 p.m. ET stock market close one Friday to the next.

Positive sentiment appears to be returning now as the GBTC outflows have slowed. Additionally, momentum from the S&P 500 briefly touching 5,000 Thursday for the first time ever may be spilling over to crypto.

“The recent price appreciation of bitcoin could be attributed to recent inflows into the spot ETFs, the prospect of the halving around the corner, which tends to generate optimism from investors as prices often shoot  up after, and general market momentum,” said Sylvia Jablonski, CEO and chief investment officer at Defiance ETFs.

“In the past, there have been parallels between bitcoin and tech stocks,” she added. “Lower rates, falling inflation, earnings growth and indices like the S&P 500 hitting groundbreaking levels certainly improve risk sentiment for the asset class.”

The move pulled crypto equities higher. Crypto exchange Coinbase rose 7% Friday and bitcoin proxy Microstrategy gained nearly 10%, while the biggest miners, Riot Platforms and Marathon Digital, rose 11% and 10%, respectively.

Bitcoin is nearing a key resistance level, which Fairlead Strategies earlier this week identified at $48,600. Hitting that level would open the door to a new all-time high, the firm said.

On Thursday, bitcoin passed $45,000 for the first time since Jan. 12, the day after U.S. bitcoin ETFs began trading. The cryptocurrency has struggled to maintain its pre-ETF highs but has avoided falling to as low as $36,000, as expected. It has not fallen below $39,000 in the past month.

—CNBC’s Nick Wells contributed reporting.

Correction: On Friday, bitcoin crossed $47,708.00 for the first time since Jan. 11. An earlier version of this story misstated the time interval.

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