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Bitcoin’s record-setting run took another unprecedented turn on Thursday, as the bitcoin price ripped past $19,000 on cryptocurrency exchange GDAX, leaving a trail of altcoin carnage in its wake. However, the rally was characterized by unusual trading activity, including one of the largest BTC/USD spreads in recent memory.

Bitcoin Price Clips $19,000

The breathtaking climb saw bitcoin rise more than $5,000 in a span of 12 hours. The journey from $17,000 to $18,000 took just fifteen minutes, and the leap from $18,000 to $19,000 was accomplished in five. By 11:30 a.m. ET — the end of the surge — the bitcoin price had reached $19,697 and was threatening to crack $20,000.

This ascent left many people puzzled because it was not replicated on other prominent bitcoin exchanges. Bitstamp, for instance, peaked at $15,995, while Bitfinex only made it to $15,700. Spreads between bitcoin exchanges are expected, but this is undoubtedly the largest percentage BTC/USD spread that bitcoin has seen in recent memory.

bitcoin price

Source: Bitfinex

The spread was so drastic that GDAX traders were paying just $100 less than traders on Korea-based Bithumb, which regularly prices bitcoin at a 20 percent premium over the global average.

Bitcoin Price Plunges; GDAX Goes Down

Immediately after reaching $19,000, the bitcoin price began to plunge, and by 11:55 it had careened down to $15,100. Three minutes later, at 11:58, GDAX effectively went down, moving all markets into “Post-Only” mode, meaning that traders could place limit orders but could not execute any trades. Bitcoin remained frozen at $16,299.

bitcoin price

Source: GDAX

Some observers began to wonder aloud whether GDAX’s system had encountered an error or had been breached by a hacker, but the exchange resumed trading at approximately 12:25 p.m. and the bitcoin price began to recover from the dip that occurred just prior to the outage.

At the time of writing, bitcoin was trading at $16,889 on GDAX — a full $2,000 above its price on Bitfinex. The global average, meanwhile, was $16,096, providing bitcoin with a market cap of $269 billion.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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Posted by Josiah Wilmoth

Josiah is a former ancient and medieval literature teacher. He has been writing about cryptocurrency since 2014, and his work has been cited in Business Insider, NPR, and Yahoo! Finance. He lives in rural North Carolina with his wife and son. Email him directly at josiah.wilmoth(at)cryptocoinsnews.com.