Bitcoin Hits Bigger Stage As Exchange Giant CME Launches Futures

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A Bitcoin (virtual currency) paper wallet with QR codes and a coin. Pix Reuters
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BITCOIN futures received a lukewarm reception at its launch on the CME Group Inc on Sunday, although market experts believe a recent rally in the cryptocurrency has further to go.

The CME bitcoin front-month futures contract did open higher at $20,650, but dropped 6 percent within the first half hour.

The contract was last at $18,805, below the $19,500 reference price set by the exchange for the January contract.

The reference price, from which price limits are set, is $19,600 for the February contract, $19,700 for March and $19,900 for June, according to CME.

On Dec. 10, Chicago-based derivatives exchange Cboe Global Markets launched bitcoin futures, which saw the price surge nearly 20 percent in its debut.

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The week-old bitcoin futures contract at the Cboe was last trading at $18,890, up 4.3 percent.

Spot bitcoin eased 1.9 percent on the Bitstamp exchange to $18,650, after surging to a record high of $19,666 on Sunday.

The launch of bitcoin futures is viewed as a major step in the digital currency’s path toward legitimacy, which should encourage the entry of big institutional investors.

“We saw a nice open on light volume, but pretty uneventful so far,” Spencer Bogart, partner at Blockchain Capital LLC, said shortly after trading began on Sunday.

“This is a brand-new asset class and I think perhaps a lot of investors want to sit back and see how this plays out before dipping their toes in this market.”

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