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Bitcoin drops to 3-week low, other cryptocurrencies plunge after prosecutors raid largest Korean exchange

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Major cryptocurrencies tumbled Friday after news prosecutors raided UpBit, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea.

Bitcoin fell 5.5 percent to $8,511, its lowest since April 20, according to CoinDesk’s bitcoin price index. The cryptocurrency traded near $8,563 as of 9:12 a.m. ET.

Other major cryptocurrencies fell double-digits over the last 24 hours, according to CoinMarketCap. Ethereum traded 11 percent lower near $680, ripple fell nearly 17 percent to around 66.7 cents and eos dropped almost 19 percent to $14.85.

Bitcoin performance over the last 3 months

Source: CoinDesk

South Korean authorities raided UpBit on suspicion of fraud, Reuters reported Friday, citing local news agency Yonhap. The South Korean Financial Supervisory Service did not immediately respond to CNBC requests for comment after local business hours.

“UpBit is currently under investigation by prosecution, and we are [cooperating] diligently,” the company said on its website, according to Google translate. “Upbit services, such as all transactions and withdrawals are operating normally. Your assets are kept securely in your account.”

The exchange is the fourth largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, according to CoinMarketCap’s rankings of markets with fees. The eos-won pair accounted for the largest share of volume, the website showed.

Bitcoin has struggled this year amid regulatory uncertainty. The cryptocurrency has lost more than half its value since topping $19,000 in December. However, many digital currency enthusiasts expect bitcoin to recover as major cryptocurrency conferences come to New York in the next week. Bitcoin’s gains accelerated above $2,000 during last May’s conferences.

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Armin Laschet picked as new leader of Germany’s ruling CDU party 

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Candidate for the chairmanship of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union party, Armin Laschet, gestures as he takes part in a discussion at the party’s headquarters in Berlin on Jan. 8, 2021.

CHRISTIAN MANG / POOL / AFP) (Photo by CHRISTIAN MANG/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

FRANKFURT, Germany — Germany’s ruling CDU party picked Armin Laschet to be its new chairman on Saturday, possibly paving the way for him to replace Angela Merkel as chancellor at elections later this year. 

Laschet is currently the prime minister of Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia region, the most populous federal state in the country. He beat rival Friedrich Merz by 521 to 466 in a vote that was forced online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Born in 1961, he was first elected to the Bundestag (German Parliament) in 1994 and his election is seen as a continuation of Merkel’s policies, as he has pledged to keep the CDU firmly in the “middle of society.” 

With him as chairman, the CDU will likely stay on message and focus on more climate change policies and environmental topics. He has a strong Catholic background which brings him support from Christian circles within the party. 

He is a trained lawyer and also worked as a journalist at the time of German reunification between 1986 and 1991. He is seen as being very liberal and is popular with the immigrant community in his home state.

If he becomes the CDU’s candidate for chancellor at September’s elections, he could be open to various coalitions — power sharing is somewhat of a recent tradition in German politics.

He has floated the idea of a government alongside the liberals, the FDP, in a bid to win over parts of the business camp inside the CDU. But he is also seen as a natural fit for a coalition with the Greens too, as he is on good speaking terms with the party and favors environmental issues.

But the CDU’s candidate for chancellor will only be determined in the spring. And it’s not certain that the newly-elected chairman will automatically move into Merkel’s role. Markus Söder, the very popular Bavarian prime minister, and also Jens Spahn, the current health minister, may also join the race to lead Europe’s largest economy.

Merkel stepped down as leader of the CDU in 2018, and her replacement Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer quit in February 2020 after a series of communication mishaps exposed her as being too weak to lead the chancellery.

This is a breaking news story, please check back later for more.

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Biden heads into inauguration with a stock market tailwind

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Biden heads into inauguration with a stock market tailwind

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