Market Wrap: Bitcoin Stabilizes After Margin Calls Fuel Biggest Plunge in Month

After a lot of drama, bitcoin’s back to trading where it was a few days ago.

AccessTimeIconFeb 22, 2021 at 9:31 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 12:15 p.m. UTC
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Bitcoin (BTC) price plunged as much as 19% in a violent sell-off Monday, the biggest of the year in dollar terms with a loss of more than $10,000, before quickly recovering and settling around $54,000.

  • Bitcoin trading around $53,884.35 as of 21:00 UTC (4 p.m. ET). Slipping 6.45% over the previous 24 hours.
  • Bitcoin’s 24-hour range: $47,780.75-$47,943.85 (CoinDesk 20)
  • BTC trades between its 10-hour and 50-hour averages on the hourly chart, a sideways signal for market technicians.
Bitcoin trading on Bitstamp since Feb. 15.
Bitcoin trading on Bitstamp since Feb. 15.

The day’s price swings came on strong volume across major exchanges Bitfinex, Bitflyer, Bitstamp, Coinbase, Gemini, ItBit, Kraken and Poloniex. The volume spiked to above $8 billion, the highest levels in almost two weeks. For comparison, the figure was about $5.8 billion on Friday.

As CoinDesk reported earlier, blockchain data showed billions of dollars of bitcoin being transferred onto exchanges on Sunday, as this year’s doubling in prices to levels above $58,000 apparently motivated some traders to take profits. 

Bitcoin volumes on eight major exchanges tracked by CoinDesk 20.
Bitcoin volumes on eight major exchanges tracked by CoinDesk 20.

Most of these bitcoin exchange inflows went to the U.S.-based Gemini, according to blockchain analytics firm CryptoQuant, indicating that the correction could be mostly led by investors and traders in the U.S.

Another indicator provided by CryptoQuant, the “Coinbase premium,” which tracks the gap between Coinbase Pro’s BTC/USD pair and Binance’s BTC/USDT pair involving the tether stablecoin, also went negative during early trading U.S. trading hours on Monday – seen as a sign of lackluster institutional demand.

Coinbase premium
Coinbase premium

Some analysts and traders were optimistic that prices would recover quickly, and that the correction might have been healthy for the market after it ran up too far, too fast.

Monday’s sell-off “is without a doubt the result of overly confident traders with unsustainable leverage,” Bendik Norheim Schei, head of research at Arcane Research, told CoinDesk. “It’s been brewing for some time, as the premiums on futures have been very high lately. The dump and the liquidations of leverage traders today were necessary and healthy for the market.”

Speaking with CoinDesk last week, analysts and traders had warned that bitcoin might face more volatility due to an over-leveraged market, where the average “funding rate” on bitcoin perpetuals – a fee that traders pay for leverage embedded within the derivatives contracts – has risen sharply across major exchanges, to a level not seen since February 2020.

The market turned extremely bullish last week after electric vehicle maker Tesla announced its $1.5 billion bitcoin investment, so it’s not surprising that a correction followed the steep run-up, said Hunain Naseer, senior editor at OKEx Insights.

“For now, even with the price bouncing back, the market is not in an uptrend, and bitcoin needs to consolidate and reclaim $55,000 levels,” Naseer added.

Ether drops more sharply, more than $25M in DeFi loans liquidated


Ether (ETH), the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, was down Monday, trading around $1,768.24 and sliding 8.32% in 24 hours as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET).

Compared with bitcoin, ether’s reaction to Monday’s sell-off was more severe, coming just days after it logged a new all-time high above $2,000 on Friday.

“With ether trading one step behind bitcoin, the weakness has spread here to a higher degree following the failed break of $2,000 over the weekend,” Singapore-based quant firm QCP Capital wrote in its Telegram channel on Monday.

Ether’s currently testing at a key supporting level around $1,700, as noted by QCP. If that fails, the next support level would be at $1,470.

While ether continues plummeting, the gas fees on Ethereum blockchain also reached record highs on Monday, according to data from Blockchair.

High gas fees are also likely a contributor to a $25 million worth of liquidation on decentralized finance (DeFi) lending platforms, as CoinDesk reported

Other markets

Digital assets on the CoinDesk 20 are mostly in red Monday. The notable winner as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET):

  • xrp (XRP) + 7.42%

Notable losers:



  • Oil was up 4.14%. Price per barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude: $61.69.
  • Gold was in the green 1.34% and at $1808.07 as of press time.


  • The 10-year U.S. Treasury bond yield climbed Monday jumping to 1.353%.
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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