Plus500 shares rocket on Bitcoin boost

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Shares in Plus500 have soared after the spreadbetting firm said it would outstrip expectations after reaping the rewards of the cryptocurrency boom.

The company saw strong volumes of contract for difference trades (CFD) in cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, while new customer numbers more than doubled to 246,000 last year.

Plus500 surged around 16% in morning trading on the London Stock Exchange, as it chalked up record revenues in the final quarter of the year and said annual revenues and profits would come in ahead of market forecasts.

Chief executive Asaf Elimelech said: “We are pleased to announce another strong period in both revenues and profits.

“Momentum in the business has continued to be strong, with increased interest in our cryptocurrency CFD offering and record new and active customer numbers, demonstrating our ability to serve our customers’ trading needs through product innovation and technology leadership.”

Bitcoin endured a tumultuous ride at the tail end of 2017, reaching nearly 20,000 US dollars (£14,746) in mid-December before tumbling to around 12,000 US dollars (£8,847) on the final day of the year.

The sharp slump was prompted by fears of a regulatory crackdown in South Korea designed to curb market speculation.

Bitcoin remains a divisive issue, with JP Morgan boss Jamie Dimon branding the digital currency a “fraud”, while Christine Lagarde, of the International Monetary Fund, has said “it may not be wise to dismiss virtual currencies”.

The UK Government has announced plans for closer scrutiny of the cryptocurrency as part of EU-wide plans which will require online platforms trading in Bitcoin to carry out due diligence and report suspicious transactions.

Bitcoin was marginally lower at 14,737 US dollars (£10,865) on Wednesday, according to prices listed on Coindesk.