Bitcoin is shockingly stable during the market sell-off this week

Anthony Wallace | AFP | Getty Images

A woman touches an ATM machine for digital currency Bitcoin in Hong Kong on December 18, 2017.

As U.S. stock markets went haywire this week, the major cryptocurrency known for giving investors whiplash was surprisingly calm.

Bitcoin is up 1 percent for the week as of Friday afternoon, according to data from CoinDesk, and remained in the $6,500 range without much fanfare.

Equity markets were a different story — the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down almost 3 percent for the week. It ended 500 points higher on Thursday after plummeting a day earlier, then on Friday dropped more than 500 points after some disappointing quarterly results from key tech companies. It later recovered some of that drop.

Fears of an ongoing trade war and rising interest rates added to the sell-off. But Bitcoin’s insulation from the market wreckage is relatively new.

Earlier in October, uncertainty around stock markets bled into cryptocurrencies as the Dow dropped as much as 1,300 points in two days, its biggest sell-off since February. Bitcoin dropped 6 percent as the total cryptocurrency market during that time lost $18 billion of its value.

Bitcoin has lost more than 65 percent of its value since nearing a high of $20,000 last year, when retail investors were fanatically pouring into the asset class. The cryptocurrency is still up 14 percent year over year, and was trading near $6,483 Friday, according to CoinDesk.

Its volatility has made it almost impossible to use as a viable payment method. Instead Bitcoin has been billed as a store of value, or “digital gold.” That safe haven use case also seemed unlikely at certain points this year, as it fell alongside major stock markets.

Gold, a more established safe-haven asset, was up 0.6 percent this week.

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