Market Wrap: Bitcoin Drops Briefly Below $33.5K While Ether Calls Dominate Options

Bitcoin fell by over $3,300 while options traders see ether going higher.

AccessTimeIconJan 20, 2021 at 9:38 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:59 a.m. UTC
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Bitcoin is recovering from a steady price decline while ether options traders anticipate another high-water mark after it hit an all-time high of $1,439.

  • Bitcoin (BTC) trading around $35,023 as of 21:00 UTC (4 p.m. ET). Slipping 4.1% over the previous 24 hours.
  • Bitcoin’s 24-hour range: $33,430-$36,794 (CoinDesk 20)
  • BTC above the 10-hour but way below the 50-hour moving averages on the hourly chart, a sideways signal for market technicians.
Bitcoin trading on Bitstamp since Jan. 16.
Bitcoin trading on Bitstamp since Jan. 16.

Bitcoin’s price fell Wednesday, going as low as $33,430 around 15:00 UTC (10 a.m. ET), according to CoinDesk 20 data. It’s been a long and mostly downward direction for the price. The world’s oldest cryptocurrency was at a high of $36,794 just 24 hours ago. It fell over $3,300 before picking up somewhat, at $35,023 as of press time. 

Constantin Kogan, partner at crypto investment firm Wave Financial, has a bearish outlook, anticipating a fall to at least $30,000. “This is where the bulls will begin to actively buy back. If we pass this mark it might drop to almost $26,000,” he told CoinDesk. “According to a Bank of America survey, long bitcoin has become the busiest type of trade.”

Kogan dubbed Wednesday’s crypto spill “a small squeeze.” A squeeze in the derivatives market certainly occurred over the past 24 hours. Jan. 19’s long liquidations, which included early Asian hours trading leading into Wednesday’s market, totaled $121 million. “Liquidations” is the equivalent of a margin call in crypto whereby a leveraged trader’s position gets wiped out.

Bitcoin liquidations on leveraged venues the past three months.
Bitcoin liquidations on leveraged venues the past three months.

On Jan. 10, the last time a large number of long liquidations occurred, $555 million in bull-placed leveraged trades were called in and the bitcoin market crumbled to $30,300. 

However, Michael Stark, a market analyst at FX broker Exness, expects larger financial players to continue to plow dollars into the bitcoin market as investors continue avoid “risk-off” assets like gold and look into “risk-on” instruments like equities and crypto. 

“Bitcoin will almost certainly continue upward eventually, but everything needs to pause here and there,” Stark said.

With a new U.S. president, inaugurated Wednesday, bringing a new set of policies – including an expectation of more fiscal stimulus – traders may be getting optimistic that more dollars flooding into the economy might bring about higher crypto prices. The bitcoin market overall is still in bull mode; less than a month ago, the spot price per 1 BTC was below $25,000.

Bitcoin’s historical price the past month.
Bitcoin’s historical price the past month.

However, nothing is certain, notes Joshua Mahony, a senior market analyst at trading platform IG. The question for markets now is whether the U.S. Congress remains divided politically, "with Biden hoping that Democrats will vote along party lines to help him push through a raft of grandiose spending packages,“ Mahony said.

Options traders like calls on ether

The second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, ether (ETH), was down Wednesday, trading around $1,338 and falling 3.8% in 24 hours as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET).

Ether’s price also declined Wednesday, though not by as much as bitcoin's. In fact, current-day options orientation in the ether market heavily favors calls, according to Skew. Call options are the right, but not obligation, to buy an asset at a set price and time. Calls are currently dominating those options, 66% versus 34% for puts, which are contracts giving the right, but not the obligation, to sell. 

Current-day ether options flows.
Current-day ether options flows.

Wave Financial’s Kogan, although bearish on bitcoin for now, expects more bullish results out of ether in the near term. It appears options traders agree, given the way they are positioned. “The expected rollback of ether did not follow bitcoin, which indicates the strength of ETH’s trend,” Kogan said. “We are waiting for a pullback to $1,300 (but) in a couple of days, the growth will resume and very soon we might see the $1,800 mark.”

Other markets

Digital assets on the CoinDesk 20 are almost all red Wednesday Notable winners as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET):

Notable losers:



  • Oil was up 0.41%. Price per barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude: $53.21.
  • Gold was in the green 1.6% and at $1,869 as of press time.


  • The 10-year U.S. Treasury bond yield fell Wednesday to 1.082 and in the red 0.77%.
The CoinDesk 20: The Assets That Matter Most to the Market
The CoinDesk 20: The Assets That Matter Most to the Market


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