LONDON/NEW YORK - Bitcoin hit a record high on Monday of $19,864, breaking its prior record set in Dec. 2017 as its 2020 rally powered on. The world's biggest virtual currency was last up 7.3% at $19,524. Bitcoin has gained more than 170% this year, fuelled by a demand for riskier assets amid unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus, hunger for assets perceived as resistant to inflation, and expectations that cryptocurrencies would win mainstream acceptance. Smaller coins ethereum and XRP, which often move in tandem with bitcoin, gained 3.2% and 6.7% respectively. Bitcoin's 12-year history has been peppered with vertiginous gains and equally sharp drops. Compared to traditional assets, its market is highly opaque. Analysts say the bitcoin market has evolved since 2017, now boasting a functioning derivatives market and custody services by major financial firms. The shifts have made it easier for professional investors from hedge funds to family offices to seek exposure to crypto, and as a result markets are, in general, more liquid and less volatile. Bitcoin's march to its prior peak - reached after frenzied buying by retail investors from Japan to the United States - saw the cryptocurrency gain over 250% in just 35 days before losing 70% of its value in less than two months after its December 2017 high. REUTERS
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