Bitcoin’s long-anticipated halving event took place Monday afternoon New York time. Now what?
At the time it took place (19:23 UTC or 3:30 p.m. ET), bitcoin was trading below its 10-day and 50-day moving averages, bearish technical indicators after a huge 10% drop in price on May 10 at 00:00 UTC. This was triggered by an outage striking San Francisco-based exchange Coinbase. At press time, bitcoin (BTC) was trading down less than a percent over 24 hours at $8,677.
The bitcoin halving, which reduced the new supply of bitcoin generated by cryptocurrency miners from 12.5 to 6.25 BTC per block (a reduction from roughly 1,800 BTC down to 900 BTC per day), arrived amid economic unpredictability due to the coronavirus pandemic. “The international scenario is quite different than in 2016, and bitcoin has never been tested during a global economic crisis. So we can expect anything to happen,” said Sebastian Serrano, CEO of Argentina-based cryptocurrency exchange Ripio.
Traders are anticipating unpredictability in bitcoin’s price for the short term, and therefore volatility is expected, says Katie Stockton, managing partner of Fairfield Strategies. “We don’t have a big sample size of past halvings, but they generally have a positive impact on sentiment after a short-term period of volatility.”
“I think the anticipation of the halving has contributed to the outperformance by bitcoin over the past few weeks, and that a breakout greater than $10,055 is likely to unfold after a few weeks of choppiness triggered by today’s gap,” Stockton added.
Mati Greenspan, founder of Quantum Economics, wrote in his daily note that the halving may not mean much immediately, but agrees this event will be a meaningful one over a long time horizon. “It is likely to have an impact in the price over the long term, as the reduced daily issuance makes the asset more scarce,” Greenspan wrote.
"Bitcoin mining pools have actually been accumulating ahead of the halving," Philip Gradwell, chief economist at analytics firm Chainalysis, said Monday on a CoinDesk Consensus:Distributed panel. "Because of the halving, we could have a bit of a liquidity crunch."
Despite higher volumes on Coinbase prior to bitcoin’s halving, it doesn’t mean volume will continue to rise in the short term, said Christopher Thomas, head of digital assets at Swissquote Bank. “I think we’re now in the zone where no significant retail money will come in this week and I think we’ll trade between $8,000-$9,000 for the next week or so, with a reasonable possibility of a drop to $7,300.”
At press time, mining hashpower has yet to see a significant drop. Vishal Shah, an options trader and founder of derivatives exchange Alpha5, is taking a wait-and-see approach. “Until we see a stabilization in mining activity, for which I'd like to see the proof in the pudding, I'm in no hurry to be buying bitcoin.”
Besides looking at how miners prepared for the event, Shah is also keeping an eye on what the miners will do next, including keeping track of how much mining power will now need to be shut off, and how much selling will happen over the next month. Thus, miner incentives are important. “My view has been that reduced rewards are likely to impact miner incentives more than the pedestrian speculator,” he added.
Digital assets on CoinDesk’s big board are mixed on Monday. The second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, ether (ETH), gained 1.3% in 24 hours as of 20:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. EDT).
In the commodities markets, gold is trading flat, down less than a percent and closed the New York trading session at $1,698. Oil is negative by 2% as crude continues its volatile run in the midst of lower demand.
In the United States, the S&P 500 index of large-cap stocks was flat, up less than a percent. U.S. Treasury bonds all climbed Monday, Yields, which move in the opposite direction as price, were up most on the two-year, in the green 9.7%.
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