Bitcoin plunges by nearly $3,000 after closing in on its all-time record

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LONDON — Bitcoin has plunged by close to $3,000 in less than 24 hours after hitting highs not seen since the end of 2017.

The price of bitcoin was trading at $19,374 at 1:45 p.m. London time Wednesday when it began its slide. The losses accelerated overnight, with the price falling from $18,824 at 2 a.m. Thursday to $16,857 by 9 a.m., according to data from industry site CoinDesk.

Bitcoin has been on a tear in 2020, skyrocketing over 150% in a jump crypto enthusiasts have credited to unprecedented monetary and fiscal stimulus in response to the Covid-19 crisis, as well as interest from big-name investors such as Paul Tudor Jones and Stanley Druckenmiller.

The latest tumble comes as many predicted the cryptocurrency would soon hit an all-time high of $20,000.

Antoni Trenchev, a managing partner and co-founder of Nexo, which bills itself as the world’s biggest crypto lender, said he expects bitcoin to rally well into the $20,000s and beyond.

“Long term I don’t see anything derailing Bitcoin’s irrevocable rise higher,” said Trenchev. “That doesn’t mean we won’t have pullbacks along the way. Look what happened in March; Bitcoin plunged 40% in one day during the coronavirus market panic. 20-30% falls can and should be expected.”

He added: “Any healthy market needs to have pullbacks and periods of consolidation. Already in 2020 we’ve seen a gain of 160%.”

Bitcoin peaked at $19,783 in December 2017. After hitting that milestone, the bubble burst and bitcoin plummeted to $3,122 the following year.

It climbed past $15,000 on Nov. 5, $18,000 on Nov. 19, and $19,000 on Nov. 24.

Bitcoin’s market value — which is calculated by multiplying the total number of bitcoins in circulation by the price — now stands at $315.3 billion, down from $355.9 billion on Tuesday, according to CoinDesk.

—CNBC’s Ryan Browne contributed to this story.

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