Bitcoin snapped a four-day losing streak, appearing to stabilize around $34,000. After the recent market correction, prices for the cryptocurrency are still up 18% year to date, versus a 1.2% gain for the Standard & Poor's 500 Index of large U.S. stocks.
"Now is probably not the time to panic," Matt Blom, head of sales and trading at the cryptocurrency exchange firm Diginex, wrote in a daily newsletter.
Bitcoin prices as of Jan. 11 stood at about 87% of their all-time high reached last week, and ether is about 78% of the way toward its all-time high from a few years ago, based on data compiled by CoinDesk Research.
Altcoins are surging "in ways that we have not really seen since 2017,” Andrew Tu, an executive at quant firm Efficient Frontier, told Shen.
It's possible, of course, that some entry-level investors viewing bitcoin's $34,000-ish price – what a small sport-utility vehicle costs – are unaware that the largest cryptocurrency can be bought in minute fractions, similar to the way that it's possible to buy $100 or $1,000 of gold.
Such confusion in the past has led some newbie investors to turn to altcoins, because their prices are often comparatively lower, sometimes counted in cents.
David Derhy, an analyst at the trading platform eToro, wrote earlier this week that some traders might shift toward ether, the base cryptocurrency for the Ethereum blockchain.
"Investors in bitcoin may be looking to take some profits and reallocate, and ether could be a target," he wrote. "A target of $2,500 is reasonable given the gains we have already seen and current price momentum." Such a level would represent a gain of nearly 150% from the current price.
Simplex, a digital-asset platform, has been seeing "increasing demand for cryptos across the board," though "retail investors seem to be looking for the next BTC," CEO Nimrod Lehavi, wrote in a Google doc, sent by a spokesman via Zoom's chat function.
“We are used to seeing BTC dominate around 90% of the total volumes of trade," says Jonathan Leong, CEO of BTSE, another crypto platform. "But the recent week or so has seen a rise in our institutional clientele’s demand and interest in altcoins, with the balance being almost 50-50 at certain times.”
Bitpanda, an Austrian cryptocurrency platform, has seen bitcoin drop to between 30% and 40% of customer purchases this year, from 40% to 50% last year, according to a spokeswoman.
"We have a big influx of users, and they are trading both bitcoin and altcoins," the spokeswoman, Sara Moric, said in an email.
- Muyao Shen and Bradley Keoun
The near-term outlook for bitcoin has dimmed, analysts say, with some now seeing a possible extension of Monday’s major price drop.
“There could be another dump as outflows from the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Pro have dried up alongside an increased transfer of coins onto exchanges,” David Lifchitz, chief investment officer for Paris-based quantitative trading firm ExoAlpha, told CoinDesk.
Outflows from Coinbase Pro – considered a proxy for purchases of the cryptocurrency by big institutional investors, since the outflows are typically seen as transfers into cold storage for long-term holding – have receded sharply from the three-year high of 55,000 BTC observed Jan. 2.
The decrease could signal a weakening in institutional demand, which played a pivotal role in pushing bitcoin last week to a new all-time high above $41,000, from about $10,000 just a few months ago.
Meanwhile, exchange deposits have gathered pace, a sign that some investors may be looking to liquidate holdings and take profits.
The number of coins held on exchanges increased by over 57,000 BTC on Tuesday, the biggest single-day change since March 2020, according to data from blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis. Exchanges have registered an average inflow of 103,000 BTC per day in the past seven days – higher than the 180-day average of 83,700 BTC.
Some analysts looking for clues in price-chart patterns are also calling for an extension of Monday’s drop. The Ichimoku cloud, a technical-analysis tool created by Japanese journalist Goichi Hosoda in the late 1960s, includes multiple lines that help identify support and resistance levels and other essential information such as trend direction and momentum.“
"I still see pressure on the downside in the short term,” said Patrick Heusser, head of trading at Swiss firm Crypto Finance AG, adding that $29,000 could be the make-or-break level. "Things could get ugly if that support is breached,” Heusser said. A price of $36,000 is the level to beat for the bulls.
Chris Thomas, head of digital assets at Swissquote Bank, sees a period of price consolidation over the rest of this week, in the $33,000–$36,000 range.
- Omkar Godbole
"Could the OCC even grant a national bank charter to open-source software that manages deposit-taking, lending, or payments, if it doesn’t have officers or directors?" writes Acting U.S. Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks in an op-ed. "Not yet. Under current law, drawn up on the assumptions of the early 20th century, charters can only be issued to human beings" (Financial Times)
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Brian Brooks, acting U.S. Comptroller of the Currency and former Coinbase general counsel, plans to step down in the next few days, Politico reports (CoinDesk). (SEE ALSO: Brooks op-ed featured above, in What's Hot.)
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