By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss and Tom Wilson
NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) – Bitcoin fell to a more than one-year low on Wednesday, breaching a key support level of $6,000 and causing a wave of selling in the digital currency and other crypto assets in what has been a prolonged market slump that began early this year.
Bitcoin fell to as low as $5,533.09 <BTC=BTSP> on the Bitstamp platform. It was down 9 percent at $5,690.47.
“For the last few days you could see the consolidation happening and the price was moving on the downside,” said Naeem Aslam, analyst at ThinkMarkets, a multi-asset online brokerage.
“The break of $6,200 yesterday gave a fair indication that there are no buyers on the sidelines at this point,” he added.
Bitcoin’s weakness spread to other cryptocurrencies, with ethereum, the second-largest, dropping to a two-month low. Ethereum was last down 10 percent at $182.41 <ETH=BTSP>.
Wednesday’s sell-off in cryptocurrencies pushed the sector’s market capitalization to under $200 billion for the first time since around mid-September, according to data from industry data tracker coinmarketcap.com.
“What you are seeing… is a breakout on the downside. Sometimes when things happen, it takes a while for the true reason to become clear – an exchange trade or regulatory action,” said Charlie Hayter, founder of industry website Cryptocompare in London.
Other market participants suggested that Thursday’s impending “hard fork,” or split of bitcoin cash – another cryptocurrency that emerged out of bitcoin – into two separate currencies, has caused some volatility as well.