UNDATED (AP) Trading in the virtual currency bitcoin was volatile just days before it began trading on a major U.S. exchange on Thursday, Dec. 7.
Bitcoin briefly soared above $19,000, before falling back. As of 4:25 p.m. EST, bitcoin was valued at $16,860 on the Coinbase exchange, still a gain of $3,400 on the day.
Bitcoin was valued below $1,000 at the start of the year.
Futures contracts on bitcoin begin trading on the Chicago Board Options Exchange on Sunday and on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange a week later. A group of banks questioned whether regulators properly considered the risks inherent in virtual currencies such as bitcoin before approving the trading of futures.
The futures are a sign of gradual mainstream acceptance of bitcoin, but also open up bitcoin to additional market forces, such as short-selling, or bets that the price will go lower.