PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 25: In this photo illustration, a visual representation of the digital Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin is displayed on June 25, 2019 in Paris, France. Picture: CHESNOT / GETTY IMAGES
PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 25: In this photo illustration, a visual representation of the digital Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin is displayed on June 25, 2019 in Paris, France. Picture: CHESNOT / GETTY IMAGES

Singapore — Bitcoin’s furious run is starting to look more and more like it did at the height of crypto-mania two years ago.

The virtual currency surged as much as 14% on Wednesday, topping $12,900 for the first time since January 2018, and bringing its gain since late Friday to about 30%. The digital asset has climbed more than 200% since December, prompting many investors to ignore the 74% drop in 2018 that followed the parabolic 1,400% surge in 2017.

“While I understand the excitement for the community that a company like Facebook, backed by other big names, has launched its own coin, this just feels a lot like last time and we all know what happened then,” Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda in London wrote in a note. “Perhaps this time the drop off won’t be so bad as we are seeing more mainstream adoption but it may be naive to think that it can’t come crashing down again.”

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Its relative strength index, a gauge of momentum, is now within a hair’s breadth of the level when the cryptocurrency peaked at about $19,500 in 2017.

Accelerating gains have raised the stakes for traders as they try to gauge whether June's rally has more staying power than the bubble that ended with a $700bn crypto wipe-out in 2018. While bulls have cheered signs of growing interest in virtual currencies from major companies such as Facebook and JPMorgan Chase, sceptics say it is unclear how those initiatives will ultimately benefit Bitcoin and its peers.

A break above the $12,720 level “will allow for a complete retracement of the 2018 bear market”, according to John Kolovos, chief technical strategist at Macro Risk Advisors, though he noted in comments on Tuesday that the rally was “turning more and more impulsive”.

The last time Bitcoin rose above $12,000 was in December 2017. It rallied further, eventually reaching as high as $19,511 later in the month, but the surge was followed by a precipitous fall that saw it drop below $6,000 by February. All in all, in December 2017 and January 2018, Bitcoin spent about six weeks above $12,000.

With Michael Patterson and Cormac Mullen.

Bloomberg