Bitcoin prices fell sharply amid the global sell-off in equities.
Luke MacGregor | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Cryptocurrencies took a battering following a global sell-off in stocks, with bitcoin seeing a near 40% plunge.
The market capitalization, or total value of the entire cryptocurrency market plummeted around $93.5 billion in the space of 24 hours as of 10:07 a.m. Singapore time, according to data from Coinmarketcap.com.
Bitcoin was down 48% from 24 hours before at 10:24 a.m. Singapore time at $4,001.60, according to data from Coindesk.
The fall in cryptocurrency markets comes amid a broader sell-off in equities as governments worldwide continue to grapple with the new coronavirus that’s spreading rapidly across the world. The number of global cases has now exceeded 128,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
In the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 2,352.60 points lower, or 9.99%, its worst drop since the 1987 “Black Monday” market crash. That selling spilled over into Asia on Friday morning, where stock markets in Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong saw heavy losses.
Investors are concerned about the global economic fallout from the coronavirus as businesses are disrupted and cities are locked down. Countries have taken different approaches with Italy, one of the worst hit-nations, shutting down shops and restaurants, and the U.S. canceling sporting events. Across the world, schools have been shut and people made to work from home.
Over the past few years, bitcoin has been likened to “digital gold” and has been seen by some as a safe haven asset to park money when markets are facing turmoil. But bitcoin, which has now erased all of its gains for the year and is in negative territory, is behaving more like a risk asset such as an equity.
And action by central banks has done little to soothe investors’ concerns. This includes a recent emergency interest rate cute from the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England as well as further easing measures by the European Central Bank.
Other cryptocurrencies suffered similar drops on Friday. Ethereum tanked 49% at 10:24 a.m. Singapore time while XRP was down over 42%.