Market Wrap: Bitcoin Rebounds to $9,500 After Scary Sell-Off

Downward bitcoin prices could impact stakeholders more than ever before, including derivatives traders and miners.

AccessTimeIconMay 20, 2020 at 8:44 p.m. UTC
Updated Apr 10, 2024 at 2:46 a.m. UTC

Bitcoin suffered a quick sell-off on Wednesday after a previously dormant address moved some of the earliest-mined coins for the first time. While bitcoin’s price has recovered a bit, downward selling pressure remains and could have an impact on stakeholders, especially in the derivatives and mining sectors.

As of 20:00 UTC (4 p.m. ET), bitcoin (BTC) was trading at $9,529, a loss of 1.2% over 24 hours. Bitcoin moved below its 10-day and 50-day moving averages on high selling volume. It’s a signal of bearish sentiment after bitcoin dropped as low as $9,100 earlier in the day on spot exchanges including Bitstamp.

Bitcoin trading on Bitstamp since May 18
Bitcoin trading on Bitstamp since May 18

After a few days of prices staying pretty much flat, bitcoin trading activity has picked up. However, that activity was mostly from sellers after one of the oldest bitcoin addresses suddenly showed signs of life, moving up to 50 BTC around for the first time in 11 years. That caused a quick 7% price drop within an hour

This sell-off reminds traders to keep track of the oldest addresses in the bitcoin network, says Jose Llisterri, co-founder of crypto trading platform Interdax. “This occurrence highlights the importance of ‘address watching,’ monitoring the addresses of whales/early miners and the so-called ‘Satoshi coins’ mined in the first months of bitcoin." 

As of now, there is no evidence the 50 BTC were moved by accounts held by the pseudonymous “Satoshi Nakamoto,” the founder (or founders) of bitcoin. 

While the price of bitcoin was able to recover some from the dip, stakeholders such as Mostafa Al-Mashita, head of business development for digital asset management firm Secure Digital Markets, are concerned the crypto market may be heading lower. “Coins from 2009 moving on-chain have definitely spooked some speculators about early players cashing out their coins,” said Al-Mashita. 

Such selling also compounds losses because of leveraged derivatives positions that get liquidated. This dynamic is what exacerbated bitcoin’s massive drop in March to below $4,000 when BitMEX liquidations wiped out leveraged traders who were long crypto. Over $40 million in liquidations occurred during the time of bitcoin’s 7% drop Wednesday. 

BitMEX liquidations the past three days
BitMEX liquidations the past three days

Another group of stakeholders watching the price carefully are miners. Bitcoin’s mining difficulty adjusted on Tuesday, a 6% drop in the computational resources needed for machines on the network to produce new coins. Mining difficulty is how much computational power it takes for miners to mine for bitcoin. 

Since the halving, bitcoin’s total daily rewards has been reduced from roughly 1,800 down to 900 BTC. Miners are more sensitive to price than ever before, despite the recent easing of difficulty. 

Christopher Thomas, head of digital assets at Swissquote Bank, senses bitcoin's price is too high despite today's selling activity. “I’ve felt we’ve been hanging around the $9,900 level without any conviction for the last week or so,” he told CoinDesk. ”We’ll likely move lower to the support levels around $8,000 and possibly further to $7,300.”

“The lower we go, the more sell volume from the miners. As their profit margins lower, they are forced to sell a higher percentage of coins,” added Thomas.

Other markets

Digital assets on CoinDesk’s big board are mostly in the red Wednesday. Ether (ETH), the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, was down less than a percent in 24 hour trading as of 20:05 UTC (4:05 p.m. ET).

Ether trading on Coinbase since May 18
Ether trading on Coinbase since May 18

The biggest digital asset dips in 24-hour trading were tron (TRX) slipping 2.8%, monero (XMR) down 2.8% and ethereum classic (ETC) losing 2.6%. Gainers on the day include zcash (ZEC) climbing 1.7%, cardano (ADA) in the green 1% and dash (DASH) up less than a percent . All price changes were as of 20:05 UTC (4:05 p.m. ET) Wednesday.

In commodities, oil is making large gains, with the price for a barrel of crude up 5% at press time. Gold traded flat, with the yellow metal gaining less than a percent, priced at $1,749 at the close of New York trading. 

Asia’s Nikkei 225 index closed trading Wednesday up less than a percent as mixed trading performances were attributed to Japanese business confidence hitting lows not seen in ten years. In  Europe, the FTSE Eurotop 100 index of the largest companies by market capitalization closed the day up 1%. 

In the U.S. the S&P 500 gained 1.6% on the day, up over 3% for the week. “Equities have had a good run,” says Rupert Douglas, head of institutional Sales at digital asset firm Koine. “I think that the Nasdaq might get to around 9700. If equities then sell off, I'm looking for BTC to be uncorrelated and rally strongly.”

U.S. Treasury bonds were mixed. Yields, which move in the opposite direction as price, were down most on the two-year bond, in the red 1%.


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