Bitcoin hits highest level in 18 months as investors gear up.
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Investors gear up as bitcoin reaches its highest level in 18 months.

Bitcoin’s price jumped above $40,000 on Monday as investors anticipate lower interest rates and regulatory approvals that could make crypto assets more mainstream.

Bitcoin, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency, traded at $41,600 over the last 24 hours, according to CoinMarketCap.

After Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank’s policy was in “well into restrictive territory,” investors began piling up on Friday, which some interpreted as signaling that interest rate hikes would end, even though Powell stressed the Fed would be ready to raise rates again.

“Bitcoin breaking $40,000 isn’t as exciting as when it happened in January 2021,” said Antoni Trenchev, co-founder of the crypto lender Nexo. However, if you compare where we were a year ago, at $15,500, this represents a significant upward turn in fortunes.

The rally also reflects investors’ eagerness to move on from the most recent scandals surrounding cryptos. Last month, Changpeng Zhao, a billionaire who founded one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, Binance, pleaded guilty to federal money laundering charges and resigned from his position as CEO of the company. It was just a few weeks ago that a jury convicted FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried of orchestrating a multibillion-dollar fraud, just weeks after he had been convicted of the crime.

A spot exchange-traded fund focused on bitcoin is expected to be approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC. Applications for such funds have to be approved by the SEC by January 10.

A spot bitcoin ETF would allow traditional investors to own bitcoin without actually owning it. In addition to its wild rallies, bitcoin’s volatility has also made ownership unattractive outside of the digital asset community.