The cryptocurrency market cap briefly clipped the $300 billion mark on Thursday, a phenomenon that occurred as the result of an apparent bear trap in the Bitcoin futures markets.
Fueled by a dramatic Bitcoin price rally, the cryptocurrency market cap surged by more than $30 billion, peaking at $301.8 billion before settling back down to a present value of $298 billion. This represents a single-day increase of 12 percent, one of the market's largest intraday rallies since December.
The Bitcoin price led the rally, surging more than $1,000 in less than an hour and briefly surmounting the $8,000 checkpoint. At present, Bitcoin is trading at $7,740 on Bitfinex -- a 24-hour gain of 11 percent -- and has a market cap of just under $130 billion.
Analysts largely attributed the precipitous surge to a "bear trap," which occurs when futures and margin traders attempt to short an asset but have their positions liquidated due to a price increase, forcing them to buy at market prices to cover their position.
Matthew Newton, an analyst at crypto brokerage eToro told CCN:
“Whilst there has been some stability in the cryptocurrency markets over recent weeks, we’ve seen a record number of short positions building on major exchanges. When the price began to rise this afternoon, a large number of shorts with big positions were squeezed. The resulting interest from buyers increased momentum, causing the price to jump $1000 in 30 minutes.”
"The ratio of short margin trades versus longs has been increasing recently," Nick Kirk, quantitative developer and data scientist at Cypher Capital, told CNBC. "Buying volume ticked up today and a lot of these short trades got liquidated, helping fuel the rally."
The Bitcoin bear trap rippled throughout the market, and most -- though not all -- altcoins made significant gains against the US dollar. The Ethereum price, for instance, rose 10 percent on Bitfinex and is currently trading at $463. Ethereum now has a $45.5 billion market cap.
The vast majority of altcoins posted similar rallies, though the gains were far from evenly distributed and one large-cap altcoin -- sixth-ranked Litecoin -- trailed the index by a considerable margin.
The Ripple price made an 11 percent leap to $0.55, raising the third-largest cryptocurrency's market cap to $21.5 billion. Bitcoin Cash, meanwhile, trailed the index by three percent but still managed to surpass the $700 mark.
EOS, continuing its parabolic midweek rally, is up 31 percent for the day, bringing its price to $8.96 and market cap to $7.1 billion.
Litecoin posted the worst performance among top 10-cryptocurrencies, rising just six percent to $121, while seventh-ranked Cardano climbed by 23 percent.
Stellar and NEO rose 11 percent and 12 percent, respectively, while IOTA's 14 percent rally to $1.18 rounded out the top 10.
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