CryptoWatch: Bitcoin futures settle slightly lower as ‘altcoins’ extend gains

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Bitcoin prices finished slightly lower Thursday as alternative coins outshined the most popular cryptocurrency in the world, a running theme in the early trading days of 2018.

Bitcoin futures for January XBTF8, +2.11% on CBOE Global Markets Inc. CBOE, +0.39%  ended off $50, or 0.3%, at $14,945, while futures BTCF8, +1.91% trading on the CME Group Inc. CME, +1.07%  for the same month shed $75, or 0.5%, at $14,900.

Thursday’s action in cryptocurrencies came as ether coins on the Ethereum blockchain crossed a psychological threshold above $1,000 for the first time ever, a day after Ripple coins extended their recent rally to reach a total valuation at $126 billion, second only to bitcoin’s total value at $255 billion, according to research site CoinMarketcap.com.

Spot prices of bitcoin, meanwhile, were hovering around $15,070, according to data and news site Coindesk.com late Thursday.

Trading in bitcoin may have been weighed down by recent comments from regulators, cautioning investors from throwing money at bitcoin and other virtual assets.

The Securities and Exchange Commission head and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission boss issued statements on Thursday, cautioning about the risks of cryptocurrencies and updating investors about actions regulators are taking to oversee them.

Check out: Here’s how the U.S. and the world regulate bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies

CFTC Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo said digital currencies and the exchanges that offer sales of tokens and other cryptos introduce “operational risks of unregulated and unsupervised trading platforms; cybersecurity risks of hackable trading platforms and virtual currency wallets; speculative risks of extremely volatile price moves; and fraud and manipulation risks through traditional market abuses of pump and dump schemes, insider trading, false disclosure, Ponzi schemes and other forms of investor fraud and market manipulation.”

Read: SEC, CFTC warn of risk of virtual currencies and initial coin offerings