After a period of low volatility, cryptocurrencies have broken out of their recent ranges, surging to multiweek highs. The No. 1 digital currency, bitcoin BTCUSD, +4.79% rose to a two-week peak, trading above $8,000 to an intraday high of $8,055.20, adding as much as 16%. A single coin last changed hands at $7,705.21, up 11%, according to Market Watch.
The intraday move is the largest since Feb. 6 when bitcoin traded down to $5,947.40 before closing at $7,700.39, a 29.4% move.
“We have seen consolidation in a very small range,” said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst with ThinkMarkets.
“When the consolidation is in such a tight range the probability is that a move to the upside can be two to three times the size of the consolidation range.”
Aslam said that a move toward $10,000 by the end of the week would give full confirmation that a bull market is back in play, but a close below $8,000 would mean today’s move would just represent a short squeeze, where those investors betting on further declines in bitcoin would be forced to unwind those bearish positions. Such a squeeze can exacerbate a swing higher because so-called short sellers often need to purchase what they are betting against to unpack a short bet.
The sudden surge in bitcoin also has propelled smaller coins, or altcoins, higher. Ether was last at $462.68, up 7.5%, Bitcoin cash is up 7% at $712.02, Litecoin has lagged, rising 3.6% to $123.38 and Ripple’s XRP is back above 50 cents, trading to 58 cents.
In the futures market, the Cboe’s April contract XBTJ8, +5.39% closed Thursday up 11.2% at $7,695 and the CME Group Inc. April contract BTCJ8, +5.73% finished the day at $7,680, up 11% on the day.
The value of all cryptocurrencies rose above $300 billion for the first time since March 28, according to research site CoinMarketCap.