Global markets at record highs; bitcoin hits $50,000 – as it happened | Business

Right, time for a recap.

Bitcoin has hit a fresh record high, scaling $50,000 for the first time and reigniting the debate over the cryptocurrency’s value, and future.

Bitcoin surged to $50,600, a jump of over $2,000 today, taking its gains in 2021 to around 70%. It has now quadrupled in the last six months.

Some analysts said that bitcoin was benefitting from increased interest from institutional investors, with BNY Mellon and Mastercard both embracing crypto in recent weeks. Tesla’s move to buy $1.5bn of bitcoin is another factor.

But lawyers warned that bitcoin could face tighter regulation from policymakers.

Central bankers expressed concern over bitcoin, with European Central Bank governing council member Gabriel Makhlouf comparing it to the 17th century Tulip bubble.

St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard insisted the US dollar’s position as the global reserve currency was safe.

Global stock markets hit record highs, having rallied for 11 days in a row – the best run in three years, thanks to vaccine optimism and US stimulus hopes.

There were strong gains in Asia, raising the prospect of a 12th day of gains – which would be the best since 2003. But European markets ended the day lower, a day after vaccine optimism drove stocks higher.

Wall Street is looking a little mixed too (the Nasdaq is a touch lower, and the S&P 500 is flat).

Investors are extremely bullish about economic prospects, according to the latest survey from Bank of America.

German investors are also more upbeat, anticipating a surge in consumer spending when the lockdown ends.

The eurozone is still on track for a double-dip recession, though, although GDP fell slightly less sharply in Q4 than first feared.

The pound hit a new 33-month high against the US dollar, as sterling moved close to the $1.40 mark.

The surge in commodity prices in recent months has boosted the mining giants, with Glencore restoring its dividend and BHP Billiton announcing a record payout.

Elsewhere…

Shares in a medicinal cannabis company, dubbed “the cannabis Nespresso”, almost quadrupled in value on their trading debut on the London Stock Exchange on Tuesday as investors scrambled to buy into the “wellness weed” market.

Virgin Wine is also heading to the stock market:

Britain’s competition watchdog has warned that Shpock operator Adevinta’s proposed $9.2bn purchase of Gumtree from eBay could reduce consumer choice and increase the fees people are charged for advertising goods online.

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has warned that more than half of pubs would not reopen if the government allowed beer garden service from April, while the rest would be at the mercy of the weather:

Goodnight. GW