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Bitcoin slides as geopolitical risks overshadow upcoming halving

Bitcoin slides as geopolitical risks overshadow upcoming halving
A neon sign for Bitcoin in the Paralelni Polis project, an organisation combining art, social sciences and modern technology, in Prague, Czech Republic, on Friday, 25 January 2024. (Photo: Milan Jaros/Bloomberg)

Bitcoin sank as part of a wider retreat in cryptocurrencies amid a wave of caution across global markets sparked by Middle East tension.

The digital asset fell more than 5% to $60,300 as of 10.25am on Friday in Singapore. Tokens such as Ether, Solana and meme-crowd favorite Dogecoin suffered heavier drops.

Unconfirmed reports of explosions in Iran, Iraq and Syria triggered a flight to traditional havens such as bonds, gold and the dollar. Speculative investments including stocks and virtual currencies endured deepening losses.

Markets in Asia had been braced for an Israeli response to an earlier Iranian drone and missile attack and attuned to the danger of a tit-for-tat escalation. The geopolitical concerns are overshadowing the Bitcoin halving expected later Friday, which will curb new supply of the token.

Halvings historically bolstered the price of the largest digital asset. This time around, Bitcoin hit a record in mid-March before the event, leading to questions about whether the putative impact has already been discounted by traders.

Ongoing Israel-Iran violence could lead to a “general risk-off sentiment across crypto,” said Stefan von Haenisch, head of trading at OSL SG Pte. But it might take a “significant move lower” to undo all of the bullishness around the halving, he added.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Deutsche Bank AG strategists have said that the quadrennial halving is largely already priced in by investors.

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