* Bitcoin jumps more than 10%, ether more than 16%
* Fed's Brainard says focus sharpening on central bank
* Fight back comes after miners suspend China operations
* Beijing crackdown on crypto has spooked markets
* Broad Sunday selloff leaves sector struggling for breath
(Updates prices, adds Brainard comments, changes dateline
NEW YORK, May 24 (Reuters) - Cryptocurrencies rebounded on
Monday, reclaiming ground lost during a bout of weekend selling
that was fuelled by further signs of a Chinese crackdown on the
Bitcoin was last up 8.8% to $37,766, erasing
losses of 7.5% from a day earlier but still down by more than
40% from last month's record high.
Second-largest cryptocurrency ether jumped more than
17% to as high as $2,459 after slumping more than 8% on Sunday
to near a two-month low. Yet it too has fallen by almost half
from a peak hit earlier this month.
In the past week policymakers have stepped up their response
to the popularity, and volatility, of cryptocurrencies. On
Monday Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard told a virtual
conference organized by CoinDesk that the growth in "private
money," digital payments and steps by other central banks were
sharpening the focus on Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC.)
While her comments did not cause much of price move, she did
say that the wide use of private money poses consumer and
stability risks given possible "run-like behavior."
The catalyst for the Sunday slump was cryptocurrency
"miners" - who mint cryptocurrencies by using powerful computers
to solve complex maths puzzles - halting Chinese operations in
the face of increasing scrutiny from
The attention on miners in China - who account for some 70%
of supply - is the latest front in a wider push by Beijing
against the cryptocurrency sector.
Major cryptocurrency exchange Huobi on Monday suspended both
crypto-mining and some trading services to new clients from
mainland China, adding it would instead focus on overseas
businesses. Others also suspended business in China.
In the short-term, market players said, that is likely to
lead to pressure on prices as miners sell bitcoin held on their
"If they are pulling up stakes or shutting down, they may
need to reduce their balance sheets in the short term," said
James Quinn, managing partner at Q9 Capital, a Hong Kong-based
cryptocurrency private wealth manager.
Crypto market players said fears over the China crackdown
would likely linger.
"Nobody's really sure about what happens next," said Joseph
Edwards, head of research at crypto brokerage Enigma Securities.
"Crypto clearly finds itself in a tough spot in terms of the
narrative right now, and it's taken a lot of oxygen out of the
Bitcoin had stabilised from a bruising week on Saturday
after Tesla boss Elon Musk - whose comments on cryptocurrencies
have been a key price driver in recent months - tweeted support
for crypto in "the true battle" with fiat currencies.
Yet after last week's 25% drop, triggered in part by
toughening language from Chinese regulators, bitcoin remains
over 40% below last month's record high of $64,895.
"It is too early to call the end of the recent bitcoin
downtrend," J.P. Morgan analysts wrote.
Publicly listed bitcoin funds saw outflows of more than $530
million last week, their fifth straight week of loses, they
said, in a sign of retrenchment by institutional investors.
(Reporting by Stephen Culp in New York, Tom Wilson in London
and Tom Westbrook in Singapore; Editing by Sam Holmes, Robert
Birsel, Andrew Heavens and Andrea Ricci)