Bitcoin swings wildly ahead of start of futures trading

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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.

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