It may be a virtual currency, but its price has shot higher as real uses for it have expanded and it has become easier for investors to trade it

London (AFP) - Bitcoin struck a record high Wednesday, a day after its foray onto Wall Street, as stocks advanced as investors tracked earnings and economic data.

The dollar was mixed against its main rivals, while oil prices advanced.

Bitcoin soared above $66,000 and nearly hit $67,000 a day after a financial instrument dedicated to the unit made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange.

The Bitcoin Strategy ETF, a new exchange-traded fund linked to bitcoin futures rather than directly to the currency, rose nearly five percent in its first day of trading on Tuesday.

The fund should be a more accessible vehicle for mainstream investors, and could therefore boost trading in the cryptocurrency.

“Interest in bitcoin in the wake of yesterday’s new ETF launch has helped to push the cryptocurrency to a new record high,” said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

Known for its volatility – bitcoin lost half of its value after setting its previous record high in April – it has now gained more than 50 percent over the last month and an astonishing 450 percent over the past year.

This week’s stellar gains have also sparked talk of hitting $100,000 in the coming months.

European stocks closed higher and Wall Street’s main indices were up in late morning trading.

Strong profit reports from big-name firms over the past week have reinforced optimism that the corporate sector is, for now, weathering a recent slowdown in economic growth, supply chain issues and surging inflation, providing a much-needed boost to worried traders.

“By and large companies are reporting decent numbers with an ability to pass on rising costs, without a significant impact on their sales growth numbers,” said Hewson.

Johnson & Johnson, United Airlines and Netflix were the latest positives from the reporting season, adding to top Wall Street banks, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley last week.

“While that is encouraging given the build-up in savings levels over the pandemic, most of this ability to pass on these costs predates the recent surge in energy prices, which means that the barriers to it continuing are growing,” Hewson added.

- Inflation worries -

Rising prices and the end of central bank largesse continued to cast a shadow however.

Concerns about surging inflation running out of control have forced several central banks to hike interest rates already – with others to soon follow – and the prospect of an end to the era of cheap cash has caused an 18-month equity rally to stutter.

British annual inflation cooled slightly in September, official data showed Wednesday, remaining close to a nine-year peak that still risks a UK interest rate rise next month.

Despite the headline figure easing, analysts still expect the Bank of England to next month raise its main interest rate from a record-low level of 0.1 percent.

While some countries have already started the tightening cycle, all eyes are on the Fed owing to its oversized role in the global economy.

- Key figures around 1530 GMT -

Bitcoin - UP 4.2 percent at $66,819.81

New York - Dow: UP 0.3 percent at 35,590.43 points

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.2 percent at 4,173.76

London - FTSE 100: UP less than 0.1 percent at 7,223.10 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX: UP less than 0.1 percent at 15,522.92 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.5 percent at 6,705.61 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.1 percent at 29,255.55 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 1.4 percent at 26,136.02 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,587.00 (close)

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 114.24 from 114.39 yen at 2040 GMT

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1644 from $1.1636

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3824 from $1.3793

Euro/pound: DOWN at 84.24 pence from 84.35 pence

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.3 percent at $85.30 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.6 percent at $83.42 per barrel