Bitcoin (Exchange:BTC=) rocketed higher Thursday, crossing the $16,000 mark in less than two days after topping $12,000 for the first time. In trading on the Coinbase exchange, the digital currency rose above $16,900 and was last at $16,748. The price on Coinbase is often at a premium over other exchanges. Coinbase is one of the major cryptocurrency exchanges accounting for a third of bitcoin trading volume. Bitcoin 1-hour chart Source: Coinbase Bitcoin now has a market value of more than $272 billion, meaning it would rank among the 20 largest stocks in the S&P 500 (^GSPC). The latest swing higher came as bitcoin topped $12,000 Tuesday night in a rapid recovery from a 20 percent drop last week. The digital currency began the year below $1,000 and its gains have accelerated as investor interest grows. Chicago-based Cboe Global Markets (CBOE) is planning to launch bitcoin futures on Sunday, while the world's largest futures exchange, CME (CME), is set to launch its futures product the following week. The addition of bitcoin futures by two respected exchanges marks another step towards establishing the digital currency as a legitimate asset class. "While we launched [in the U.S.] just a week ago, bitFlyer has already seen strong interest from institutions looking to gain exposure to bitcoin. We're glad to have expanded to the US at this time with so much interest due to the impending Bitcoin futures launches," bitFlyer COO Bartek Ringwelski, said in an email. The Tokyo-based digital currency exchange is the largest in the world by trading volume and announced last week it received a "BitLicense" to operate in New York. However, many remain critical of bitcoin. JPMorgan Chase Jamie Dimon has called bitcoin a "fraud." Digital currency investor and former Fortress hedge fund manager Michael Novogratz also said last week that cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are "going to be the biggest bubble of our lifetimes." Novogratz also predicted last week that bitcoin could reach $40,000 by the end of next year. Between 5 and 6 a.m. New York time, bitcoin jumped past $15,000, its latest milestone after soaring through $12,000, $13,000 and $14,000 over about the last 33 hours, according to an index on CoinDesk.
Source of chart: CoinDesk WATCH: Bitcoin's origin story remains shrouded in mystery. Here's why it matters
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