BITCOIN BUBBLE GROWS ON CRISIS IN CYPRUS - The previously quite obscure virtual currency Bitcoin, which can be used in limited capacity to buy and sell goods online, has been enjoying a remarkable surge in value, resulting in the ''Bitcoin Bubble. In 2012, Bitcoins were trading for four US cents each. Earlier this week they hit a record $142 spurred, it seems, by disaffected investors in the wake of the Cypriot crisis. Untied to any real asset, the Bitcoin's price is determined only by speculation on exchanges around the world, the largest of which, Mt Gox, reported technical difficulties on Wednesday as interest rocketed.

Economist Constantin Gurdgiev says that investors are desperately seeking safe assets and so are looking at the virtual currency. He says the supply of Bitcoin is fixed and it can not be devalued.


MORNING BRIEFS - Reports in the UK this morning suggest that the restructuring specialist Hilco is on the verge of signing a deal to reopen up to 130 HMV shops in the UK. Those reports, as yet unconfirmed by either Hilco or Deloite which is handling HMV's administration, suggest Hilco is interested in reopening HMV's Henry Street store in Dublin to relaunch the music retailer in Ireland.

*** The average smartphone user spends as much as 20% of the time they spend on their phone using Facebook. But that is not enough for the social network. Overnight it launched new software called Facebook Home which effectively aims to be the default application you use when you use your phone. Users of smartphones using the android operating system will be able to download Facebook Home. It has call features and delivers all vitally important updates from your Facebook friends direct to the home screen of the phone. The company's shares were up 3% on Wall Street following this latest announcement.

*** Providence Resources has released results of an independent audit which it had commissioned on an oil reservoir in the Barryroe field off the south coast. The audit says Providence will likely be able to recover 311 million barrels of oil and 207 billion cubic feet of gas from the reservoir. In a statement, Providence technical director John O'Sullivan described the audit results as very positive and said they validated the "significant recoverable resources" from the reservoir which Providence first reported on last summer.

*** Tokyo's Nikkei index passed 13,000 points for the first time since 2008 in earlier trade today, gaining 4%. The gains follow new Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda's commitment to effectively print $1.4 trillion worth of yen by the end of 2014 as a stimulus measure.