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El Salvador's bitcoin holdings value slashed in half by sell-off

·2 min read

LONDON (Reuters) - El Salvador's bet on bitcoin was slashed on Tuesday by half as the more than $100 million in the country's publicly disclosed purchases dropped more than 50% in value.

The 10 purchases announced by President Nayib Bukele via Twitter have a market value of just over $51 million, with the biggest single trade - 420 coins at more than $59,000 per coin - down almost 63%.

Bukele has said on Twitter at least four times that El Salvador has bought a "dip", a term used by traders to mean they took advantage of a price dislocation that resets for a quick gain.

One of the "dips" Bukele said El Salvador bought was 420 coins for more than $59,000 each in late October, a total of almost $25 million that is now worth $9.5 million.

The government didn't respond to a request for comment on the value of its bitcoin portfolio.

(Graphic: El Salvador publicly reported bitcoin purchases, balance El Salvador publicly reported bitcoin purchases, balance- https://graphics.reuters.com/ELSALVADOR-BITCOIN/PURCHASES/akpezrzrzvr/chart.png)

The amounts, both the investment and the loss, are only a fraction of the $3.65 billion that the Central America nation held in foreign exchange reserves as of last month, according to credit rating agency DBRS Morningstar.

The country has $7.65 billion in marketable debt outstanding according to Refinitiv data. An $800 million payment is due in January, on a bond that is trading at 73.5 cents on the dollar and yielding 67.6%.

"Bondholders are no wiser on how bond payments will be made," Siobhan Morden, head of Latin America fixed income strategy at Amherst Pierpont Securities, said in a note on Tuesday.

"The monthly fiscal data do not yet show an obvious trend shift, with the pace of spending less than revenue growth, but not yet enough to markedly reduce the structural fiscal deficit."

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos in London and Nelson Rentería in San Salvador)