Despite speculation that Bitcoin futures would make the famously volatile asset easier to short, the launch of CBOE futures trading this evening sparked a huge rally for the currency. Futures trading began at 5 PM Central time on December 10 at a price of $15,000, matching the price of one Bitcoin on the Gemini exchange.

As of press time, roughly five hours later, the price of Bitcoin has risen to $16,800 on Gemini. Futures expiring in January 2018 are trading at $18,500, a $3,500 rise. This rapid rise in the futures price has already triggered two “circuit breakers” and is threatening to trigger a third. CBOE has implemented so-called circuit breakers to give traders a chance to pause and reconsider in the event of large price movements. Any gain or loss of more than 10% triggers a two minute stop to trading, while a move of 20% or more will cause trading to pause for five minutes.

As we reported earlier tonight, CBOE’s launch of its Bitcoin futures product (which trades under the “XBT” ticker) caused such a sharp increase in demand that the exchange’s website went down almost immediately. In the last five hours, about 2,000 contracts have traded hands. Each contract represents one Bitcoin, implying a trading volume of greater than $30 mln in just a few hours. This is especially noteworthy considering Wall Street traders generally only work Monday through Friday. Odds are good that tomorrow will be a very big day, indeed.