Bitcoin Nears $10,000 Milestone; These Crypto Stock Plays Are Moving

Bitcoin's astonishing ascent appeared set to continue Monday, with the world's largest cryptocurrency poised to breach the key psychological barrier of $10,000. Meanwhile, several stocks with cryptocurrency or blockchain ties were moving sharply as well.

XAutoplay: On | Off Bitcoin rose to a record $9,732.76 in early New York trade before trimming gains to $9,662.37, up 3.6%. It's up more than 900% so far this year, according to Bitcoin Price Index.

The 10,000 milestone would come just a week after bitcoin crossed $8,000, although the price action for the virtual currency has been marked by sharp slumps and strong rallies this year. Many skeptics warn of a bitcoin bubble, but even Wall Street stalwarts are warming to the technology.

CME Group (CME) hopes to launch bitcoin futures in December, and Goldman Sachs (GS) and Citigroup (C) are exploring cryptocurrencies and the underlying blockchain technology — JPMorgan Chase (JPM) reportedly is mulling letting its customers bet on Bitcoin futures even though JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon has warned Bitcoin is a "fraud" doomed to failure.

As bitcoin rose Monday, the Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC), an exchange traded note backed by Bitcoin, leapt 19%. GBTC gives investors a way to trade Bitcoin easily over the counter, but is also seen as an expensive and potentially dangerous investment.

Marathon Patent Group (MARA), an IP licensing company set to acquire Global Bit Ventures, a cryptocurrency miner, vaulted 32% early Monday.

Among other Bitcoin plays, Overstock.com fell 1% on the stock market today, Square (SQ) tumbled 6.8% and Riot Blockchain (RIOT) sank 21%. But all three stocks are up sharply in recent weeks, at least in part due to Bitcoin buzz.

Overstock has invested in blockchain technology. Square recently started trials in which some Square Cash app users can buy and sell Bitcoin, though BTIG downgraded the stock on Monday, saying the Square's Bitcoin-related rally was overdone. Riot Blockchain, which recently changed its name to reflect its new focus, provides exposure to the blockchain ecosystem.

IBD'S TAKE: Blockchain, the shared record-keeping technology behind Bitcoin, is already being adopted by the biggest retailers. Here is a primer about blockchain and how it works.

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