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Bitcoin hits US$50,000 level for first time in more than two years

WASHINGTON: Bitcoin hit the US$50,000 level for the first time in more than two years as the world's largest cryptocurrency was buoyed by expectations of interest rate cuts later this year and last month's regulatory nod for US exchange-traded funds (ETFs) designed to track its price.

The cryptocurrency has risen 16.3 per cent so far this year, on Monday (Feb 12) touching its highest level since Dec 27, 2021. At 12.56pm Eastern Standard Time (5.56pm GMT), Bitcoin was up 4.96 per cent on the day at US$49,899, having oscillated around the US$50,000 level.

"US$50,000 is a significant milestone for Bitcoin after the launch of spot ETFs last month not only failed to elicit a move above this key psychological level but led to a 20 per cent sell-off," said Antoni Trenchev, co-founder of crypto lending platform Nexo.

Crypto stocks also enjoyed a boost on Monday, with crypto exchange Coinbase up 4.9 per cent and crypto miners Riot Platforms and Marathon Digital up 10.8 per cent and 11.9 per cent respectively. Shares of software firm MicroStrategy - a notable buyer of Bitcoin - were up 10.2 per cent.

The price of Ether, the second-largest cryptocurrency, was up 4.12 per cent at US$2,607.57.

Global stock indexes also edged higher on Monday, as traders looked for cues on when the United States Federal Reserve might begin cutting interest rates. Analysts and financial market expectations both point to May as a potential start for rate cuts this year.

Bitcoin's recent price appreciation can primarily be attributed to the increased inflow into Bitcoin spot ETFs, said Matteo Greco, a research analyst at fintech investment firm Fineqia International, in a research note.

The US securities regulator on Jan 10 approved the first US spot Bitcoin