Cryptocurrencies continued this week’s slide on Thursday, with tokens of some of the largest blockchains by market capitalization falling as much as 6% in Asian trading hours before recovering slightly in early European trading hours.
The move came ahead of a $6 billion options expiry for bitcoin (BTC) on Friday during a low-volume holiday period marked by volatility and range-bound price movement for larger-cap cryptocurrencies. Options are hedging instruments that allow investors the right, but not the obligation, to buy the underlying asset at a predetermined price on or before a specific date.
Among larger caps, cardano (ADA) and avalanche (AVAX) fell 6% in the past 24 hours while solana (SOL) and terra (LUNA) lost 4%.
Tokens of layer 1 blockchains – native blockchains over which other products and services can be built – rose as investors looked beyond the Ethereum ecosystem, which is bogged by high fees and long transaction times. That narrative has driven prices of LUNA, SOL, near (NEAR), fantom (FTM) and others higher in the past few weeks.
Prices of bitcoin and ether (ETH), the two largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, posted a small decrease in early Asian trading hours on Thursday. European trading hours saw a sudden surge, with bitcoin gaining nearly $500. That led to a brief resurgence in other larger-cap cryptocurrencies, with the likes of ADA rising to $1.35 from $1.30 in a few hours and LUNA climbing to $86 from $81.
The rise in prices in European trading hours caused over $11 million in liquidations, data from analytics tool Coinglass showed. Slightly over 91% of these liquidations were on short positions, or from traders who’d bet on falling prices.
Liquidations occur when traders borrow funds from exchanges to bet on crypto prices using a relatively small initial capital, one that is forfeited when prices reach a predetermined liquidation level. Thursday’s figures contributed to over $400 million in liquidations in the past 24 hours, with over $274 million occurring on bitcoin and ether futures alone.
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