Coinbase shares soar 26% in boost from meme traders, BlackRock crypto deal

The logo for Coinbase Global Inc, the biggest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange, is displayed on the Nasdaq MarketSite jumbotron and others at Times Square in New York, U.S., April 14, 2021.

Shannon Stapleton | Reuters

Shares of Coinbase soared on Thursday after the crypto exchange announced a partnership with BlackRock to provide its clients access to cryptocurrency trading, beginning with bitcoin.

Coinbase shares were last up by 25.2%. Earlier in the day they jumped as much as about 40%.

Services in the company’s Prime offering will be available to clients of BlackRock’s portfolio management platform for institutional investors, Aladdin, the company said on its blog. It will provide crypto trading, custody, prime brokerage, and reporting capabilities. BlackRock is the largest asset manager in the world with more than $8 trillion under management.

“Our institutional clients are increasingly interested in gaining exposure to digital asset markets and are focused on how to efficiently manage the operational lifecycle of these assets,” Joseph Chalom, global head of strategic ecosystem partnerships at BlackRock, said in a statement. The partnership will let them “manage their bitcoin exposures directly in their existing portfolio management and trading workflows.”

Coinbase shares have been on a tear lately and analysts have not been sure why. The stock jumped 20% on Wednesday. The shares were still down nearly 70% for 2022 through Wednesday’s close.

The unusual jump in Coinbase this week could be related to investors who were betting against the stock scrambling to cover their short positions, a so-called short squeeze. More than 22% of Coinbase’s shares which are available for trading are sold short, according to FactSet. So as the stock has run, these investors have to buy back the stock to cover their losses, further fueling the gains.

The ticker COIN also became one of the most mentioned names on Reddit’s WallStreetBets Thursday, topping GameStop’s popularity in the online forum, according to alternative data provider Quiver Quantitative.

—CNBC’s Yun Li contributed reporting.