A 31% plunge in the morning. A 33% surge in the afternoon. Such was the wild ride Bitcoin took investors on May 19, lopping off billions in value before comments from some prominent proponents helped propel it on a torrid rebound.

The extreme price swings in an asset known for its turbulence caused outages on major crypto exchanges and dominated chatter on Wall Street. The tumult elicited a tweet from Elon Musk that implied Tesla Inc was not among the sellers, while Cathie Wood said her monitors flashed a “capitulation” that put the digital token “on sale”. Justin Sun, a tech entrepreneur who founded the cryptocurrency platform Tron, tweeted that he bought US$152 million ($203 million) in Bitcoin for around US$37,000 a coin.

Down to within a whisker of US$30,000 just after 9am in New York, the coin pared its loss to 7% and periodically topped US$40,000 again in the afternoon.

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