Bitcoin surges higher, narrows gap to record high

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A representation of virtual currency Bitcoin is seen in front of a stock graph in this illustration taken January 8, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo/File Photo

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March 9 (Reuters) - Bitcoin rose strongly on Tuesday, on course to gain for a fifth straight day, in a rally that has left the cryptocurrency within touching distance of an all-time high hit last month.

The digital currency was trading up 3.3% at $54,206 amidst a broadly supportive risk rally, climbing toward a record high of $58,354.14 seen on Feb. 21.

Bitcoin has risen about 87% this year, broadly outperforming conventional asset classes, partly due to broader acceptance as a form of payment.

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On Tuesday, bitcoin's surge fueled gains in related stocks, sending shares of cryptocurrency miners Riot Blockchain Inc (RIOT.O) and Marathon Digital Holdings Inc (MARA.O) soaring 28% and 22%, respectively.

In recent weeks, companies have taken advantage of bitcoin's strength to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in funding, capitalizing on improved market sentiment.

Bitcoin bank Silvergate Capital Corp (SI.N) on Tuesday launched a $300 million program to sell shares, less than two months since it raised equity, while business intelligence software company MicroStrategy Inc (MSTR.O) recently issued notes in order to fund more bitcoin purchases.

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Reporting by Aaron Saldanha in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

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