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Bitcoin (BTC) climbs on ETF speculation

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Bitcoin on display.

Chesnot | Getty Images

Bitcoin climbed Friday to hit a five-month high, and was inches away from hitting $60,000.

The world’s biggest cryptocurrency surged as high as $59,920, notching its highest level since May. 10. But it struggled to break above the $60,000 mark.

Bitcoin was last trading 2.5% higher over the last 24 hours, at a price of $59,112, according to Coin Metrics data.

Traders are optimistic about the chances of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission giving the green light to the first bitcoin futures exchange-traded fund, according to analysts.

The SEC is unlikely to block the products from starting to trade next week, Bloomberg reported, citing anonymous sources. CNBC couldn’t independently verify the report.

Approval of an ETF that gives mainstream investors exposure to bitcoin would be a landmark for the crypto industry, which has long been pushing for greater acceptance of digital assets on Wall Street.

“The ETF news is being priced in with the market expecting an approval on Monday. This is driving the price up,” Vijay Ayyar, head of Asia Pacific at cryptocurrency exchange Luno, told CNBC.

“However, we are at high time frame resistance here around 58-60K, hence a rejection on the ETF application could send Bitcoin back to 53-55K levels. But overall the trend is still bullish and there are a number of other ETF applications in the pipeline as well.”

Not all cryptocurrencies got a boost from the ETF news Friday. Ether, the second-largest coin, rose 3.7% to $3,777. However, XRP was down about 0.6% while ada fell 0.3%.

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Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been on a wild ride this year. The number one digital coin hit an all-time high of nearly $65,000 in April, before slumping sharply on the back of a crackdown on the crypto market in China. It’s still more than doubled in price so far this year.

Regulators have been taking a tougher line on crypto this year, as interest from investors has surged. The industry has been putting up a fight though, with Coinbase on Thursday calling on the U.S. to create a new regulator to oversee digital assets.

Earlier this week, Bank of England Deputy Governor Jon Cunliffe warned cryptocurrencies could spark a global financial crisis of similar magnitude to the 2008 crash.

“When something in the financial system is growing very fast, and growing in largely unregulated space, financial stability authorities have to sit up and take notice,” Cunliffe said in a speech Wednesday.

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