Market Wrap: Bitcoin Hangs Around $18K While Ether Locked in DeFi Declines

Bitcoin’s price pulled off the bull road for a rest stop Thursday while ether holders pull out of DeFi.

AccessTimeIconNov 19, 2020 at 9:21 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:33 a.m. UTC
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Bitcoin steadied around $18,000 after record volumes on Wednesday while Ethereum 2.0 may be causing some investors to move ether out of decentralized finance (DeFi).

  • Bitcoin (BTC) trading around $18,026 as of 21:00 UTC (4 p.m. ET). Gaining 2.1% over the previous 24 hours.
  • Bitcoin’s 24-hour range: $17,364-$18,170
  • BTC above its 10-day and 50-day moving averages, a bullish signal for market technicians.
Bitcoin trading on Bitstamp since Nov. 17.
Bitcoin trading on Bitstamp since Nov. 17.

Bitcoin’s price rise stalled somewhat Thursday, with the world’s oldest cryptocurrency hitting as high as $18,170 before dipping below the $18,000 level, but back to $18,026 as of press time. 

Volume contributed to the weakening price action. At $1.79 billion, Wednesday was the highest volume day for major USD/BTC spot exchanges since way back on March 13, when volumes hit $1.98 billion the day after the “Black Thursday” crash. Today, daily volume on these exchanges were at a comparably tepid $867 million. 

Daily bitcoin volumes on major USD/BTC exchanges.
Daily bitcoin volumes on major USD/BTC exchanges.

A volume pullback from the second-largest day on the USD/BTC spot market in 2020 isn’t deterring analysts on their bullish prognostications. 

“The current upward move seems more sustainable than the 2017 bull run as institutional investors are now positioning in bitcoin whereas it was only retail speculation back in 2017,” said Elie Le Rest, partner at quant firm ExoAlpha. “Bitcoin confirms by its recent price move that it has a place in a diversified portfolio.”

“The market's infrastructure, regulatory regime and overall maturity is much more robust than previously,” said John Willock, CEO of crypto asset manager Tritium. “I fully expect a couple of pullbacks from these nominal mile markers such as $18,000, $19,000 and $20,000, but I do expect we should see the overall momentum continue through the rest of the year.”

Since Oct. 20, bitcoin’s 30-day volatility has been steadily rising, indicating that some price gyrations may still be on the horizon.

Bitcoin 30-day volatility in 2020.
Bitcoin 30-day volatility in 2020.

“No assets go parabolic forever,” noted Michael Gord, chief executive officer for trading firm Global Digital Assets. “Bitcoin has gone up over 50% in the past month and is due for a correction.”

Bitcoin’s performance on Bitstamp the past month.
Bitcoin’s performance on Bitstamp the past month.

“Long term I’m still very bullish and still seeing increasing interest from more traditional investors in bitcoin and other digital assets,” Gord added. 

Investors are certainly looking at the derivatives market, with bitcoin futures (over $6 billion) and options (over $4 billion) open interest hitting new highs. CME, a professional investor venue, has flirted with $1 billion in bitcoin open interest this week, a sign institutions are increasingly hedging crypto positions.

Bitcoin futures open interest the past year.
Bitcoin futures open interest the past year.

Even permabulls like Henrik Kugelberg, a Sweden-based over-the-counter crypto trader, are prepared for some bumps in the road should bitcoin work its way to an all-time high. 

I expect a much larger drop pretty soon,” Kugelberg told CoinDesk. “But in all I can see BTC going to $23,000-$24,000 in the next month or two.”

Ether moving out of DeFi

The second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, ether (ETH), was up Thursday, trading around $475 and climbing 0.55% in 24 hours as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET).

The amount of ether “locked” in decentralized finance, or DeFi, is declining. The fall began Nov. 14, going from 8.9 million to 7.7 million ETH as of press time, according to aggregator DeFi Pulse.

Total ether locked in DeFi the past three months.
Total ether locked in DeFi the past three months.

Jean-Marc Bonnefous, managing partner for investment firm Tellurian Capital, suspects some of the ether movement out of DeFi might have to do with Ethereum’s ambitious “2.0” project. This requires some capital allocation to a smart contract set aside for staking something known as the “beacon chain” to launch the new network

“There is the need to find another 400,000 ETH to fill the first phase of staking into ETH 2.0 by the end of November,” said Bonnefous. “So this might explain some of the leakage out of DeFi.”

Other markets

Digital assets on the CoinDesk 20 are mixed Thursday, mostly green. Notable winners as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET):

Notable losers:



  • Oil was up 0.71%. Price per barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude: $41.88.
  • Gold was in the red 0.30% and at $1,866 as of press time.


  • The 10-year U.S. Treasury bond yield fell Tuesday, dipping to 0.855 and in the red 2.7%.


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