The derivatives market likely played a role in pushing bitcoin's spot market price to a level not seen in almost two weeks. Meanwhile, the ether market seems to be decoupling from bitcoin, for now.
- Bitcoin (BTC) trading around $56,996 as of 21:00 UTC (4 p.m. ET). Gaining 7.5% over the previous 24 hours.
- Bitcoin’s 24-hour range: $52,604-$57,219 (CoinDesk 20)
- BTC above the 10-hour and the 50-hour moving averages on the hourly chart, a bullish signal for market technicians.
Bitcoin’s price made gains Friday. At around 17:00 UTC (12 p.m. ET), the world’s oldest cryptocurrency hit $57,219, according to CoinDesk 20 data. Bitcoin's price Friday jumped over $4,600 within a 24-hour period, settling a bit as of press time, at $56,996.
“One reason we may be seeing the upswing in bitcoin's price is because of the expiration of $4.2 billion in bitcoin options contracts today,” noted Steve Ehrlich, chief executive officer at investment firm Voyager Digital. “Historically, there have been price dips in the days leading up to a bitcoin options expiry, only for it to rebound thereafter.”
For most of this week, bitcoin’s price struggled to make gains. The last time bitcoin traded at the $57,000 level was almost two weeks ago, on April 17.
“What we're experiencing is likely the rebound, which further confirms the continued bullishness around bitcoin," Ehrlich said.
The options expiration may have caused some traders to return to the spot market Friday as buyers pushed the price up, noted Nate Cox, the chief investment officer of crypto brokerage Two Prime. “The majority of long calls and puts for the April monthly contracts are expiring worthless,” Cox said. “Needless to say, bitcoin didn't move the way many derivative traders expected this month.”
This momentum may subside, however. It appears that options traders are not overly bullish on bitcoin holding the $60,000 level anytime soon. Based on market data aggregated by Skew, options expiring May 21 are positions such that there’s only a 38% chance bitcoin will reach $60,000 on that date, with a 53% probability of $56,000 and a 74% probability of BTC over $50,000.
Voyager’s Ehrlich said that it appears more money is pouring into the ecosystem Friday because many assets are also up – a plus for the entire crypto market.
"Alongside BTC’s positive momentum, we are also seeing upwards price movement in other altcoins such as DOT, XLM, AVAX, LINK, LTC, ALGO, DASH and ICX in the last 24 hours,” said Ehrlich. “This indicates that traders remain bullish on the entire spectrum of crypto assets, and are not moving away from altcoins into bitcoin.”
Ether is surprisingly flat; is it decoupled from BTC?
Ether (ETH), the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, was trading around $2,786 as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET), up 1.9% over the prior 24 hours.
After hitting fresh record highs several times this week, ether was struggling to make gains Friday, a stark contrast from the bitcoin price pop. Analysts are mixed on whether ether’s correlation is completely decoupled from bitcoin.
“ETH now has a completely different play, making the most due to the DeFi projects,” noted Constantine Kogan, partner at investment firm Wave Financial. “My guess is they will be more and more decorrelated.”
Decentralized finance, or DeFi, is certainly showing fundamentals that signal continued growth; total value locked has now crossed $65 billion for that market.
Some of this gain is a function of price, but the amount of crypto deposited remains steady, meaning investors are not withdrawing crypto from DeFi to deploy elsewhere, which is a bullish sign.
Darius Sit, chief investment office of quantitative firm QCP Capital, noted the ETH/BTC trading pair, a popular one offered on most crypto exchanges, indicates there was some selling today of ether into bitcoin.
“ETH/BTC had been going up, so this is just some mean reversion, I guess,” Sit told CoinDesk.
ETH/BTC is down 5% on Coinbase as of press time.
Ultimately, ether trading differently from bitcoin is probably a temporary condition, according to Sit. “A couple days [of] decoupling is not statistically significant,” he told CoinDesk. “I don’t think it's abnormal price behavior.”
Digital assets on the CoinDesk 20 are all in the green Friday. Notable winners as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET):
- Asia’s Nikkei 225 index ended the day in the red 0.83% as the tech sector experienced a sell-off on worse-than-expected corporate forecasts.
- In Europe, the FTSE 100 closed up just 0.12% as poor economic data about the eurozone released Friday left investors feeling uncertain.
- The S&P 500 index in the United States slipped 0.60% as Twitter fell 14% due to the social media company's reporting of worse-than-expected results.
- Oil was down 2.1%. Price per barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude: $63.49.
- Gold was in the red 0.24% and at $1,768 as of press time.
- Silver is falling, down 0.84% and changing hands at $25.85.
- The 10-year U.S. Treasury bond yield fell Friday to 1.628 and in the red 0.74%.
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