LONDON/NEW YORK- Bitcoin hit a six-month high and was within striking distance of its all-time peak on Tuesday as traders bet the listing of the first bitcoin futures-based U.S. exchange-traded fund could herald investment flows into cryptocurrencies.
The ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF on NYSE Arca, owned by Intercontinental Exchange Inc, listed on Tuesday under the ticker BITO.
That followed the end of a 75-day period in which the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission could object to the listing.
The new ProShares ETF opened at $40.88 and was last at $41.64. ETFs are securities that track an asset and can be bought or sold on a stock exchange. Analysts said the ETF would likely simplify access to cryptocurrencies for retail investors.
"It can attract flows from investors who prefer the ease of an ETF over the perceived risk of an exchange," said Martha Reyes, head of research at crypto exchange Bequant.
Bitcoin BTC=BTSP , the world's biggest cryptocurrency, touched $63,337.54 after the listing, its highest since mid-April and near its record of $64,895.22.
Known throughout its 13-year life for its volatility, bitcoin has risen by some 40% this month on hopes the advent of bitcoin ETFs - of which several are in the works - will see billions of dollars managed by pension funds and other large investors flow into the sector.
Still, other analysts have cautioned the fund will not invest directly in bitcoin - but in Chicago-traded futures - and so therefore any immediate implications for flows may be limited.
But speculators have been wagering its launch is a positive signal for spot prices anyway.
Bitcoin futures rose 1.2%, last trading at $62,380.
"This could lead to more constant buying pressure on CME, causing the open interest to rise. This will attract more cash and carry opportunities, leading to buying pressure in the spot market," cryptocurrency analysts at Arcane Research said in a note.
Crypto ETFs have launched this year in Canada and Europe amid surging interest in digital assets. VanEck and Valkyrie are among fund managers pursuing U.S.-listed ETF products, although Invesco on Monday dropped its plans for a futures-based ETF.
The Nasdaq on Friday approved the listing of the Valkyrie Bitcoin Strategy ETF and Grayscale, the world's largest digital currency manager, plans to convert its Grayscale Bitcoin Trust into a spot bitcoin ETF, the company confirmed.
(Reporting by John McCrank in New York, Tom Wilson in London and Tom Westbrook in Singapore; editing by Kim Coghill and Jason Neely) ((firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter @jmccrank; 1 646 223-6643; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))