Market Wrap: Derivatives, Altcoins Take Market Spotlight as Bitcoin Dozes at $9,100

Derivatives and altcoins are providing excitement as bitcoin spot trading stays dull.

AccessTimeIconJul 17, 2020 at 8:46 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 9:32 a.m. UTC

Traders want a bitcoin price breakout but they aren’t sure when that will happen.

  • Bitcoin (BTC) trading around $9,174 as of 20:00 UTC (4 p.m. ET). Gaining 0.64% over the previous 24 hours.
  • Bitcoin’s 24-hour range: $9,054-9,184
  • BTC above 10-day and 50-day moving average, a bullish signal for market technicians.
Bitcoin trading on Coinbase since July 16.
Bitcoin trading on Coinbase since July 16.

Traders are optimistic that bitcoin’s weak market, with low volumes and low volatility, can quickly change. Price movement outside of the low $9,000s territory is key, said Rupert Douglas, head of business development and institutional sales at London brokerage Koine. “This tussle between bulls and bears from $9,000 to $9,500 is a slow grind at the moment. A close outside these boundaries will likely see a sharp move either way.” 

It will take more exciting news than a Twitter hack attempting to scam social media users out of bitcoin to bring the world’s oldest cryptocurrency out of stagnation, said Jean-Baptiste Pavageau, a partner at Paris-based quantitative trading firm ExoAlpha. 

“The fact that bitcoin didn’t move because of the Twitter scam shows the importance of $9,100-$9,200 range to either consolidate the trend and move higher or invalidate the level and fall toward $8,200,” said Pavageau. 

Bitcoin trading on Coinbase in July.
Bitcoin trading on Coinbase in July.

In a sleepy bitcoin sector, several analysts pointed to the crypto derivatives market as a sign the industry is still growing. “In general, the markets have come a long way and I am particularly excited about some of the new derivatives platforms that have emerged.” Mick Sherman, founder of New York-based Trading Firm Altcoin Advisors. 

In particular, CME, Binance and ByBit have seen growth in open interest.

Bitcoin futures open interest the past six months.
Bitcoin futures open interest the past six months.

In addition, U.S. dollar-denominated open interest on Seychelles-based derivatives exchange BitMEX is around $700 million, a high not seen since the excitement surrounding May 12’s bitcoin halving, a scheduled reduction in the cryptocurrency’s new supply output that happens roughly every four years. 

BitMEX open interest in USD the past six months.
BitMEX open interest in USD the past six months.

“We still see a lot of interest and building momentum for derivatives and expect this to continue for some time, particularly as traditional managers seem less interested in holding the underlying but still want exposure to price movement,” said Douglas Bilyk, business development director at crypto brokerage Copper. 

Derivatives might be a factor, but cryptocurrencies other than bitcoin could weigh on the market as well, Bilyk added. “We're expecting a large bitcoin move but direction is unclear. One ‘canary in the coal mine’ might be the bullish moves in some of the blockchain development tokens these past few weeks.” 

Ethereum transactions highest since 2018

The second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, ether (ETH), was up Friday, trading around $233 and climbing 0.33% in 24 hours as of 20:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. EDT). 

This week, the Ethereum network experienced the most transactions in over two and a half years. On Monday, total transactions reached 1,151,834, the first time it has been that high since Jan. 18, 2018, according to data from aggregator Etherscan. 

Ethereum transactions since the network launched in 2015.
Ethereum transactions since the network launched in 2015.

With decentralized exchanges now around $60 million in volume per day, tokens on the Ethereum network, often referred to as altcoins, are giving traders new ideas to profit within the cryptocurrency ecosystem. “I don’t see bitcoin as a clear trading opportunity right now, however there are some opportunities with altcoins that have performed really well lately.” said Alessandro Andreotti, an Italy-based bitcoin over-the-counter trader.

Other markets

Digital assets on the CoinDesk 20 are mostly in the red Friday. Notable winners as of 20:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET): 

  • stellar (XLM) + 11%
  • 0x (ZRX) + 3.5%
  • dogecoin (DOGE) + 3.3%

Notable losers as of 20:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET): 



  • Oil is down 0.23%. Price per barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude: $40.59
  • Gold is up 0.76% Friday at $1,810 per ounce 


  • U.S. Treasury bonds all climbed Friday. Yields, which move in the opposite direction as price, were up most on the two-year bond, in the green 5.7%.


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