Bitcoin’s price has fallen sharply, dropping below $1,000 amid news from China that major exchanges had temporarily cut services.

At press time, prices were down more than 7% after word emerged this morning that two of China’s biggest bitcoin exchanges – Beijing-based OKCoin and Huobi – are freezing bitcoin and litecoin withdrawals for a month following pressure from the People’s Bank of China.

Yuan deposits and withdrawals are not affected, the exchanges said.

Markets had been hovering around $1,063 when the news broke, though this has now changed as the market seeks to price in the news.

According to the CoinDesk USD Bitcoin Price Index (BPI), prices fell as much as $80, hitting a low of $958.56. BPI data shows that prices had previously hit a high of $1,077.76 earlier today.

At press time, bitcoin prices are at an average of $988.

CNY-denominated markets were down more than 13% from their peak on the news at one point, according to the BPI, falling from a high of ¥7,598.92 to an average of ¥6,755.52.

However, the price was up 5% on the day at press time, indicating traders were perhaps viewing the news as a buying opportunity.

Real-time response

So far, market observers appear to be reacting with a mixture of surprise and concern when reached for comment.

OTC trader Zhao Dong indicated that he expected further price weakening stoked by traders “since you can only deposit coins and sell” in light of the exchange policy changes.

Kong Gao, overseas marketing director at OTC trading firm Richfund, remarked more simply, stating:

“This is big news.”