Bitcoin skyrockets above $7,000 for first time ever

Currencies Reuters

A Bitcoin (virtual currency) paper wallet with QR codes and a coin are seen in an illustration picture taken at La Maison du Bitcoin in Paris, France, May 27, 2015. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo (Copyright Reuters 2016)

LONDON (Reuters) - Digital currency bitcoin rocketed above $7,000 for the first time ever on Thursday, after a more than sevenfold increase in its value since the start of the year.

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Bitcoin has seen eye-watering gains in recent months and has more than doubled in value in the past seven weeks alone. It hit as high as $7,066.44 on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange on Thursday.

The latest rally was driven by news earlier this week that the world's largest derivatives exchange operator CME Group (CME) is to launch bitcoin futures.

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The price move takes bitcoin's aggregate value, or "market cap" -- its price multiplied by the number of bitcoins released into circulation -- to more than $117 billion, according to industry website Coinmarketcap.

The aggregate value of all cryptocurrencies is now at a record high of over $190 billion, the website said.

(Reporting by Jemima Kelly, Editing by Abhinav Ramnarayan)

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