Bitcoin re-approaches the $400-level as market sentiment improves – Bitcoin prices rallied to hit the highest level in more than two weeks on Wednesday, as increased appetite for the virtual currency boosted prices.
Bitcoin (BTC/USD) touched a session high of $397.36 on Slovenia-based BitStamp earlier in the day, the most since October 16.
Prices last traded at $397.02 during U.S. morning hours, up $28.27, or 7.67%.
The price of a bitcoin on Bulgaria-based BTC-e added $29.81, or 8.21%, to trade at $392.81, while prices on Singapore-based itBit advanced $20.94, or 5.58%, to trade at $395.94.
According to the CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index, which averages prices from the major exchanges, prices of the crypto-currency rallied 7.75% to trade at $395.44.
Bitcoin prices have been well-supported in recent sessions as investors returned to the market amid bullish chart signals.
Prices of the virtual currency are up nearly 20% since hitting a recent low of $317.80 on November 1.
The price increase has been accompanied by a rise in trading volume and coincides with the recent crackdown of U.S. and European authorities against illegal websites operating on the so-called Tor network, such as online drug marketplace Silk Road 2.0.
Meanwhile, euro-denominated Bitcoin prices (BTC/EUR) tacked on €18.00, or 6.12%, to trade at €312.00 on U.S.-based Kraken Exchange.
Elsewhere, yuan-denominated Bitcoin prices on Shanghai-based BTC China rose 173.57 yuan, or 7.74%, to trade at 2,415.00 yuan, while prices on Beijing-based OKCoin increased 181.71 yuan, or 8.15%, to trade at 2,411.49 yuan.
Bitcoin is digital cash and is not backed by a government or central bank to regulate or issue it. It can be used to purchase goods and services from stores and online retailers.
Prices of the virtual currency are down nearly 42% from its June highs of $683, and roughly 67% below its all-time high near the $1,240-level hit in late November 2013.
Bitcoin’s market cap is down to just $4 billion, after peaking at $13.9 billion in December 2013, even as the virtual currency has been getting more popular with merchants and retailers in recent months, including PayPal, Expedia, and Dell.

Dollar rises vs. pound, slides lower against yen – The dollar rose against the pound on Wednesday, after the Bank of England cut forecasts for growth and inflation, while the greenback eased off seven-year highs against the yen on dampened expectations for a general election in Japan in December.
USD/JPY pulled back from Tuesday’s seven-year highs of 116.10, and was last down 0.51% to 115.19.
The yen found support after a Japanese government spokesman said Wednesday it is up to the prime minister to decide when to call elections.
The yen weakened on Tuesday amid speculation that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could call a snap election in December. Speculation that the prime minister could postpone a proposed sales tax increase, scheduled for October 2015 also weighed.
A win for Abe would indicate continued support for his for his economic and fiscal policies, which call for a weaker yen.
GBP/USD slid 0.36% to trade at 1.5859 after the BoE said inflation is likely remain below its 2% target in the near term and fall below 1% at some point during the next six months. The bank now expects inflation to take three years to return to its 2% target.
The bank said the outlook for inflation had weakened due to steep declines in commodity prices and the sluggish outlook for global growth.
The annual rate of U.K. inflation fell to a five-year low of 1.2% in September.
The bank also said it continued to expect economic growth of 3.5% this year but pared its forecast for growth in 2015 to 2.9% from 3.1% in August.
Earlier Wednesday, the Office for National Statistics reported that the number of people claiming unemployment benefits fell by 20,400 in October, below expectations for a decline of 24,900.
The U.K. unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.0% in the three months to September, compared to forecast for a downtick to 5.9%.
Meanwhile, EUR/USD held steady at 1.2478, not far from last Friday’s 26-month lows of 1.2356.
In a report, Eurostat said industrial production in the euro zone increased by 0.6% in September, below forecasts for a gain of 1.0%. Industrial production in August fell by 1.4%.
Year-on-year, industrial production inched up 0.6% in September from a year earlier, compared to expectations for a 0.2% decline and after dropping at a rate of 0.5% in the preceding month.
Elsewhere, the dollar was flat against the Swiss franc, USD/CHF at 0.9638.
The Australian, New Zealand and Canadian dollars were broadly higher, with AUD/USD rising 0.39% to 0.8720 and NZD/USD climbing 0.83% to 0.7872, while USD/CAD fell 0.18% to 1.1315.
The US dollar index, which tracks the performance of the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was steady at 87.59, close to Friday’s four-and-a-half year peaks of 88.31.