Bitcoin was flat, holding around $33,000, after falling for two straight days. The largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization is now in its eighth straight week of trading roughly sideways.
Analysts said bitcoin trading was buoyed along with assets in traditional markets by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s assurances that he’s still not seeing “substantial further progress” on an economic recovery – signaling that the U.S. central bank isn’t likely to dial back monetary stimulus anytime soon.
Powell's comments come after Tuesday’s U.S. Labor Department report that inflation accelerated in June by the fastest pace in 13 years. Bitcoin is seen by some investors as a hedge against inflation because of the cryptocurrency's fixed supply schedule.
“What helped cryptocurrencies turn positive was the broad-based rally on Wall Street,” Edward Moya, senior market strategist at Oanda, wrote in an email. “The Fed seems stubbornly dovish and willing to tolerate a few more months of surging pricing pressures before considering a change of tune over the transitory/persistent inflation debate.”
- S&P 500: 4374.3, +0.12%
- Gold: $1827.1, +1.04%
- 10-year Treasury yield closed at 1.344%, compared with 1.41% on Tuesday
Ether tracked higher with bitcoin, but among altcoins the day’s big story was a jump in price for the FOX token after the backing ShapeShift exchange announced plans to become more decentralized and airdrop the token.
Looking for clues
With bitcoin stuck in the $30,000 and $40,000 range for eight weeks now, cryptocurrency analysts are scouring blockchain data for clues on which way the market will go.
David Grider, head of digital assets at FundStrat, wrote Wednesday in a weekly report that he is looking closely at the “spent output profit ratio,” or SOPR. The metric is calculated by dividing the average price at which bitcoin was sold by the average price at which it was bought.
Writes Grider: “When SOPR is above 1, it implies owners of the asset are in profit at the time of the transaction. Below 1 implies sellers have capitulated and sold at a loss.”
The metric has stayed below 1 since May, possibly a sign there’s a “healthy reset of profit taking,” reminiscent of a similar episode that played out in March 2020, at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Several months after that, bitcoin prices rallied and ended up quadrupling on the year.
“In a bull market, as we expect we are in today, a SOPR below 1 can indicate a local bottom as sellers are reluctant to sell at a loss,” Grider wrote.
Powell talks stablecoins
Jerome Powell spent much of his semiannual testimony before the House Financial Services Committee addressing the outlook for the U.S. economy, the prospects for inflation and the likely path of monetary policy.
U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, the. ranking Republican on the committee, asked when the Fed would deliver its much-anticipated report on central bank digital currencies (CBDC) and crypto.
Powell said that report, previously expected to arrive this month, will appear in September.
“U.S. regulation, along with environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns, are the biggest risks to cryptos, so a September Fed release of [the central bank's] concerns on digital currencies should be viewed as good news for bitcoin,” according to Oanda’s Moya.
Powell also weighed in on stablecoins, arguing they will need to be more closely regulated if they are going to be a major part of U.S. payments networks.
“Stablecoins certainly have some advantages in terms of faster payment systems and have some attributes of CBDCs, but there are some risks with stablecoins right now,” Powell said. “I think the issue is that stablecoins are a lot like money market funds or bank deposits or a narrow bank.”
In response to a question from Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), Powell said the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency isn’t in danger of being threatened, even as other countries develop CBDCs.
The chairman said central bank digital currencies might undermine the case for decentralized digital assets.
“You wouldn’t need stablecoins, you wouldn’t need cryptocurrencies if you had a digital U.S. currency,” Powell said. “I think that’s one of the stronger arguments in its favor.”
As it begins a months-long process of closing up shop, it will begin by airdropping $98 million in crypto to decentralized finance (DeFi) investors across multiple blockchains.
Following the news, the price of ShapeShift’s exchange token FOX surged. FOX was changing hands at $0.51 as of press time; before the news went out this morning, the token was trading at $0.28. It hit $0.68 about an hour after the 11:00 a.m. ET announcement.
- AXS Rally: The rally in Axie Infinity’s governance token AXS is showing no signs of slowing down as users continue to flock to the play-to-earn battle economy amid lackluster action in the broader crypto markets. The AXS token clocked a new record high of $23.60 early Wednesday, surpassing the previous peak of $22.50 reached Tuesday, according to data source Messari. Axie Infinity shards, or AXS, is the governance token of the Axie Infinity platform, an Ethereum-based digital marketplace for the game Axie Infinity. “Axie Infinity, created by SkyMavis, allows players to earn income through non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, and cryptocurrencies by breeding, battling and trading digital pets called Axies," a Philippines-based Axie trader told CoinDesk.
- Chia continues expansion: Chia Network, the smart transaction platform created by BitTorrent founder Bram Cohen, has added five executives across multiple divisions, including sales, product development and professional services, and has nearly doubled its workforce since closing its last venture round in early May.
- Solana’s Phantom Wallet Raises New Round to Go Multi-Chain: Phantom, a digital wallet that’s on the Solana blockchain network, has raised $9 million in a Series A funding found led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z). Other participating investors included Variant Fund, Jump Capital, DeFi Alliance, the Solana Foundation and Coinbase investor Garry Tan. The funding will be used to expand the Phantom team, develop new features and expand to other blockchains, said the firm.
Notable winners as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET):