LONDON/NEW YORK, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Bitcoin
tumbled to its lowest level in six months on Monday as fears of
a Russian attack on Ukraine saw riskier assets worldwide extend
The largest cryptocurrency was last down 5.4% at $34,310
after earlier dropping to $32,951, its lowest price since July
23, taking losses from its all-time high of $69,000 hit in
November past 50%.
NATO said on Monday it was putting forces on standby and
reinforcing Eastern Europe with more ships and fighter jets, in
what Russia denounced as an escalation of tensions over Ukraine.
Fears of a conflict pummelled shares across the world while
bolstering the dollar and oil.
Nerves over the Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting,
starting on Tuesday, added to the mix, with the U.S. central
bank expected to confirm it will soon start draining the pool of
liquidity that has supercharged growth stocks.
"The story is really how aggressive is the tightening," said
Marc Chandler, chief market strategist at Bannockburn Global
Forex in New York, noting that a Fed move to reduce the size of
its balance sheet will tighten conditions along with higher
Crypto currencies are falling along with other risk assets
as "people are pulling back on risk broadly," he added.
Smaller cryptocurrencies, which tend to move in tandem with
bitcoin, also slumped. Ether, the second-largest
digital coin, was last down 11% at $2,257 after earlier reaching
$2,160, its lowest level since July 27.
More than $400 million in crypto assets has been liquidated
in the past 24 hours, according to data from Coinglass https://www.coinglass.com/LiquidationData,
with Bitcoin trades accounting for $141 million of that total.
"Bitcoin will face headwinds going back up until the
macroeconomic conditions change," said Mark Elenowitz, president
of Horizon, a firm that services securities exchanges.
"Generally speaking, when rates are hiked, we could see more
sell-offs of seemingly risk-on assets like bitcoin."
U.S.-listed cryptocurrency miners Riot Blockchain,
Marathon Digital and Bit Digital slumped
between 9% and 17% on Monday, while crypto exchange Coinbase
Global dropped 13.3%.
(Additional reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru
Editing by Rachel Armstrong, Mark Potter and Paul Simao)