The price opened the day at $267.08, but quickly fell after just two hours of trading. Soon after 3am (GMT), the price plunged through the $250 mark, which market watchers see as an important psychological barrier for the price.
The price held steady, but then plunged again about seven hours later, at around 10am. The price then fell about $14 to fall under the $230 mark, according to the CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index. At press time, it stood at $226.
Market-watchers have previously warned that if the price falls below $250, then further losses could be in the offing.
Arthur Hayes of derivatives firm BitMEX, writing in his weekly trading newsletter yesterday, offered that $200 was the next resistance level after $250.
“If you were hoping for a violent rebound, that hasn’t happened and it is time to move net-short [BTC],” Hayes wrote.
Order books showing large sell orders
Order books at the major USD/BTC exchanges today are showing a spike in volume, largely from sell orders.
Bitfinex, the largest USD exchange by trading volume, shows sells dominating the order book, comprising 70% of total volume over the past hour, at 10:55am. Sell orders have comprised 64% of the Bitfinex order book over the last 24 hours.
Short swaps on Bitfinex have also spiked several times today, hitting a high of 70.5% of the active hourly swaps at around 2am. Current hourly swap activity is in favour of longs, which account for 74% of the instrument.
At recently revived Bitstamp, which had been offline for four days following a security breach and theft of $5m, selling pressure is piling up. The depth chart it offers shows a sharp increase in the quantity of sell orders of around 1,000 coins around the $244 mark. Hundreds of coins are joining the queue at current prices of around $231.
OKCoin, usually behind Bitfinex and Bitstamp in the amount of bitcoin-dollar trade done, is reporting consistent selling pressure. The price fell about $4 over 45 minutes, with 1,556 coins changing hands from 10am.
As bitcoin investors on the US east coast start their day to a sea of red candlesticks and a price that has lost more than $30 overnight, a further cascade of selling pressure may hit exchange order books.
Miners pull the plug
The plummeting price of bitcoin has had ripple effects throughout the bitcoin economy. While traders may be scrambling to top-up their margin accounts or to pile on the short swaps, some miners are apparently beginning to find their positions untenable as well.
Cloud mining outfit CEX.io, for one, said it would temporarily suspend mining because the price had fallen too low. Mining difficulty, meanwhile, has plateaued and dipped over the past 30 days, but remains at an all-time high.
“[This is] the result of cloud mining costs exceeding mining profit,” CEX.io chief information officer Jeffrey Smith wrote in a blog post announcing the suspension yesterday.
So how far more does the bitcoin price have to drop? As yesterday’s Markets Weekly noted, several observers think it could go well below $200, after it has plunged past $250.
Martin Tillier of the Nasdaq’s trading blog believes bitcoin’s fair value lies somewhere in the $140 region, at a slight premium to the level it was trading at, around $120, before the bull-run in the autumn of 2013.
Meanwhile, bitcoin believers looking at a bitcoin price apparently in free-fall, might be left to reassure themselves that it’s the underlying technology, not just the currency price, that matters most.