Bitcoin Futures Trading Launch Mostly Without Incident

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At 6:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, the Chicago Board of Options Exchange (CBOE) launched its Bitcoin futures contract. The contracts trade under the ticker symbol XBT and the opening price was $15,000 per bitcoin.

By 8:15 p.m., the exchange had traded 890 contracts. As of Monday morning at around 6:00 a.m. ET, CBOE reported 2,802 January contracts had been traded and 17 February contracts had changed hands, as had 51 March contracts.

The launch went relatively smoothly although the CBOE had to halt trading for two minutes beginning at 8:31 last night following a 10% price swing. A few hours later CBOE again halted trading, this time for 5 minutes after a 20% price spike.

The most recent price for the January contract was $17,900, up $2,440, a gain of more than 16%. And just as the trade in bitcoin is volatile, so was the futures trading. The high since the contract opened was $18,850. The most recent price for bitcoin itself is around $16,560.

The February opened at $18,000 and traded down $270 Monday morning while the March contracts opened at $16,430 and traded up about $1,830.

Sunday’s extended-hours trading ends at 8:30 a.m. when regular Monday trading begins and regular weekday trading settles at 3:15 p.m. ET. Extended hours trading begins at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Equity futures traded up Monday morning, ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting that begins tomorrow and ends with Wednesday afternoon’s expected announcement of another rate hike. The European Central Bank and the Bank of England are scheduled to announce policy rates this week as well.

But bitcoin’s launch will remain in focus as it begins is first day of regular trading. According to CBOE’s announcement, the final settlement date for the January contract is Wednesday, two business days before the third Friday of the month.