Amid another price downturn Thursday, bitcoin options traders appear to be becoming less bullish on the immediate prospects for the cryptocurrency.
The one-week put-call skew, which measures the spread between prices of short-term puts and calls, has risen to a five-week high of 14%. The skew had bottomed out near an extremely bullish -33% just a week ago, according to data source Skew.
One-, three- and six-month skews have also climbed from recent lows, but are still in bullish territory. The shift is the result of increased demand for downside hedges, or puts, alongside significant selling in bullish calls.
"Over 380 contracts of the Jan. 29 expiry $30,000 calls have been bought today," Swiss-based data analytics platform Levitas told CoinDesk. Meanwhile, call selling accounts for nearly 50% of total trading volume on major exchanges, according to Skew.
Bearish bets or puts have been drawing bids since Tuesday. Put options at $32,000 and $36,000 strikes saw high demand on Wednesday, according to Deribit Insights. Someone bought more than 600 contracts of the Jan. 29 expiry put options on Tuesday. The data indicates some investors were preparing for a price drop.
Bitcoin is facing the pull of gravity at press time, trading down 6.4% at $32,940. Price had fallen as low as $32,200 a short time ago, the lowest since Jan. 11.
The losses could be attributed to regulatory concerns triggered by the U.S. Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen's recent comments that the the use of cryptocurrencies in illicit financing needs to be curtailed.
Additional bearish pressure could be stemming from prominent investors saying prices are unlikely to return to the recent record high near $42,000 for some time.
"We probably have put in the top for bitcoin for the next year or so. We are likely to see a full retracement back to the $20,000 level,'' Guggenheim Global CIO Scott Minerd said on CNBC on Wednesday.
The cryptocurrency may further face chart-driven selling in the short-term.
Bitcoin has dived out of a narrowing price range with the move toward $32,000. The range breakdown is backed by a below-50 bearish reading on the 14-day relative strength index (RSI). As such, the psychological support of $30,000 stands exposed.
Should the sell-off gather pace, put options will likely see stronger buying pressure.
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