Market Wrap: Traders Ratchet Up Derivatives Bets as Bitcoin Mounts Rally

Bitcoin's funding rates are rising, a sign traders are willing to take more risk in betting on a fresh rally.

Mar 30, 2021 at 8:40 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 12:33 p.m. UTC
  • Bitcoin (BTC) trading around $58,800 as of 20:17 UTC (4:17 p.m. ET). Climbing 2.1% over the previous 24 hours.
  • Bitcoin’s 24-hour range: $57,069-$59,380 (CoinDesk 20)

Bitcoin has climbed on four of the past five days, and the price is now pushing back toward $60,000 for the first time in a couple weeks.

"It wasn't with the fanfare and fireworks, but instead just a standard grind higher, helped in part by the continued positive adoption news flow," Matt Blom, head of sales and trading with the digital-asset firm Equos, wrote Tuesday in an email.

Several stories reinforced the theme of growing mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies, echoing the takeaway from Visa's announcement on Monday.

  • PayPal on Tuesday announced a Checkout service that will allow bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH), bitcoin cash (BCH) and litecoin (LTC) to be seamlessly converted into U.S. dollars or other fiat currencies when making purchases, the same as a credit card or a debit card would work inside a PayPal wallet.
  • Blockstream, the bitcoin development company, is launching a token tied to the company's bitcoin-mining production, redeemable in bitcoin.
  • Derivatives exchange Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) will launch smaller-sized bitcoin "micro" futures contracts in May, potentially expanding the number of people who bet on the future price of the leading cryptocurrency.
  • Tether, the company behind the biggest dollar-linked stablecoin, USDT, published an attestation verifying that it had $35 billion in assets backing a similar amount of its USDT token last month. Some analysts had warned that an unraveling of trust in tether could rattle the bitcoin market.

"Bitcoin has tentative resistance at the $60,000 level, but momentum from yesterday’s Visa news should be enough to keep the bullish trend going strong," Edward Moya, senior market analyst for the foreign-exchange broker Oanda, wrote Tuesday in an email.

Bitcoin Funding Rates Climb, Suggesting Optimism Over Fresh Rally

Chart shows BTC price and perpetual futures funding rate.

Bitcoin traders appear to be ratcheting up bets on a fresh rally, and they’re taking on more leverage – and risk – in cryptocurrency derivatives markets.

In the past few days, the cost to fund a long position in the market for bitcoin (BTC) perpetual swaps, a type of derivatives in cryptocurrency markets similar to futures contracts in traditional markets, has broken above neutral levels for the first time since mid-March, according to Arcane Research, a Norwegian analysis firm.

The average cost is now pushing toward 0.08%. That’s still well below a level close to 0.12% witnessed earlier this month, when bitcoin surged to an all-time high price above $61,000, or earlier in the year, when the funding cost was roughly twice as high.

But the recent rise appears to show traders finding a renewed appetite for risk-taking following a market shakeout over the past couple weeks. Bitcoin’s price fell to just above $50,000 as recently as March 25.

“The funding rate spikes coincide with strong optimism and high leverage from short-term traders,” according to the Arcane report.

Ether rises with bitcoin

Ether daily price chart over past month.

  • Ether (ETH) trading around $1,847. Climbing 2.1% over the previous 24 hours.
  • Ether’s 24-hour range: $1,787-$1,860 (CoinDesk 20)

Ether (ETH), the second-largest cryptocurrency by market value, climbed alongside bitcoin, gaining 1.3% to $1,841 as of press time

The native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain, ether has more than doubled this year, but its price is still off the all-time high around $2,000 reached in February.

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