The fall followed a sudden plunge last week that shook bitcoin out of a period of relative stability, where prices had hovered around the $6,500 mark for several months.

A Bitcoin (virtual currency) coin is seen in an illustration picture taken at La Maison du Bitcoin in Paris, France. (June 23, 2017) (Reuters Archive)
A Bitcoin (virtual currency) coin is seen in an illustration picture taken at La Maison du Bitcoin in Paris, France. (June 23, 2017) (Reuters Archive) (Reuters)

Bitcoin slumped on Tuesday to its lowest this year, tumbling as much as 10 percent to breach $4,300 and taking losses in the world’s best-known digital coin to 25 percent within a week.

Other smaller coins also skidded sharply as a broader cryptocurrency sell-off, said by traders and market makers to be rooted in heavy selling at leveraged Asian exchanges, gathered steam.

The fall followed a sudden plunge last week that shook bitcoin out of a period of relative stability, where prices had hovered around the $6,500 mark for several months.

Bitcoin sunk as far as $4,327, its lowest since October 2017. 

By mid-afternoon, it was trading around $4,750 on the Bitstamp exchange.

“We’d been waiting for a break-out,” said Mati Greenspan, senior market analyst at eToro. “When you have the price moving so steadily you had lots of stop-loss orders building up - and now you are seeing them being liquidated.”

Ripple's XRP and Ethereum's ether, the second and third-largest coins, fell as much as 14 and 16 percent respectively before clawing back losses in US trading hours.

Bitcoin has plummeted over 75 percent this year from a peak of $20,000 touched in December as retail investors piled into one of the largest bubbles in history.

Traders and market makers blamed bitcoin’s slide on heavy selling at leveraged exchanges in Asia such as Hong Kong-based OKEx and Bitmex. 

Few exchanges in the West lend bitcoin to traders, making the Asian venues popular with speculators.

Source: Reuters