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Bitcoin Climbs to 9-Month High as Bank Turmoil Sparks Rally

LONDON/HONG KONG, March 20 (Reuters) - Bitcoin climbed to a nine-month high on Monday as turmoil in the banking sector drives some investors to turn to digital assets, as the cryptocurrency built on its best week in four years.

The biggest cryptocurrency rose as far as $28,567, its highest since mid-June, and was last up 0.9%, amid growing expectations that central banks would slow the pace of interest rate hikes.

Bitcoin rose 26% last week, its best weekly gain since April 2019, and has soared some 40% in 10 days as turmoil in the banking sector rippled around the globe - culminating, so far, in UBS Group's takeover of rival Credit Suisse Group AG over the weekend.

Traditional assets such as banking stocks and bonds plummeted on Monday after UBS sealed its state-backed takeover of Credit Suisse, a deal orchestrated in an attempt to restore confidence in a battered sector.

Top central banks, faced with the risk of a fast-moving loss of confidence in the stability of the financial system, moved on Sunday to bolster the flow of cash around the world. Such a global response has not seen since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Its stunning rally is the result of the banking crisis, and as the interest rate markets prices in rate cuts in the second half of 2023," said Tony Sycamore, an analyst at IG Markets, predicting a move towards $32,000 should bitcoin hold above the key support level about $25,000.

Other market players predicted that bitcoin would benefit from central bank efforts to bolster liquidity in the global financial system. It rose to a record of $69,000 in November 2021 after central banks and governments launched unprecedented monetary and fiscal stimulus measures.

"The momentum is all driven by liquidity," said Markus Thielson at digital asset firm Matrixport in Singapore.

Reporting by Tom Wilson in London and Georgina Lee in Hong Kong; Editing by Christian Schmollinger

Source: Reuters

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