Coinbase stock looks to find its footing at $350 following explosive open

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Shares of digital currency exchange Coinbase (COIN) opened at $381 Wednesday — significantly higher than its pre-listing reference price of $250 — underscoring heightened institutional demand for the crypto-focused stock. 

The $381 value put Coinbase’s market capitalization at $99.6 billion on a fully diluted basis. The stock peaked at $429.54 for a gain of 71.8% from the original reference price. It was last seen trading around $350, having gained 43%, according to Yahoo Finance data.

It was a volatile first hour of trading for Coinbase as the cryptocurrency exchange went public. The stock is trading well above its reference price. Chart via Yahoo Finance

Meanwhile, the technology-focused Nasdaq Composite Index, which listed COIN, was down 0.6% on Wednesday.

As Nasdaq reported Tuesday, Coinbase’s reference price does not reflect its offering price, which means nobody purchased or sold shares at the $250 price point quoted previously. “The opening public price will be determined based on buy and sell orders in the opening auction on Nasdaq,” the exchange clarified.

Volatility was expected for Coinbase on its first day of trading, as price discovery and pent-up demand led investors to bid up the price significantly shortly after it went public. Investors got a taste of the volatility in the derivatives market, where the “pre-IPO” price of COIN shot up to a high of $640 before crashing to $420 on FTX, a leading crypto derivatives platform.

Coinbase’s public listing is considered a “watershed” moment for the cryptocurrency market. Ben Lilly, co-founder of Jarvis Labs, said COIN stock would provide a “bridge” to legacy markets that are still uncomfortable with the prospect of digital-asset investing. Several crypto-proxy stocks have exploded in value this year, largely in lockstep with Bitcoin (BTC) and other digital assets.