Market Wrap: Altcoins Outperform Bitcoin, Traders Cautiously Await Breakouts

Recent price bounces have lacked conviction among crypto traders, especially in the futures market.

AccessTimeIconMar 23, 2022 at 8:44 p.m. UTC
Updated Nov 14, 2022 at 7:53 p.m. UTC

Bullish sentiment is returning to crypto markets after a sluggish start to the year. The recent outperformance of alternative cryptocurrencies (altcoins) indicates a greater appetite for risk among traders.

Bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH) were down 1% over 24 hours, compared with an 8% rise in Cardano's ADA token and a 3% jump in dogecoin (DOGE). Meanwhile, LRC, the native token on the Ethereum scaling network Loopring, rallied as much as 34% after the blockchain project shared an update on its partnership with GameStop (GME).

Some analysts expect crypto prices to remain elevated over the short term, albeit in a higher range. That means a relief rally could be short-lived. For reference, BTC's prior range between $30,000-$40,000 earlier this year preceded the current range between $40,000-$45,000, indicating a decline in selling pressure.

"There will be an upper limit to prices of risk assets, depending on how big [Federal Reserve] rate hikes will be," Justin Chuh, a trader at Wave Financial, said during an interview with CoinDesk. Chuh also mentioned that some traders have not been picking price bottoms. Instead, traders have been unwinding downside hedges and selling volatility contracts as prices stabilize, according to Chuh.

From a technical perspective, short-term indicators are improving for bitcoin. "We expect recent highs near $45,000 to soon be cleared as a positive catalyst," Katie Stockton, managing partner at Fairlead Strategies wrote in a report. "A breakout earlier this month suggested bitcoin has upside toward $51,000."

Latest prices

Bitcoin (BTC): $42,334, −0.36%

Ether (ETH): $2,978, −0.81%

S&P 500 daily close: $4,456, −1.23%

Gold: $1,947 per troy ounce, +1.38%

Ten-year Treasury yield daily close: 2.32%

Bitcoin, ether and gold prices are taken at approximately 4pm New York time. Bitcoin is the CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index (XBX); Ether is the CoinDesk Ether Price Index (ETX); Gold is the COMEX spot price. Information about CoinDesk Indices can be found at

Tepid breakouts

Open interest, or the total amount of outstanding contracts in the bitcoin futures market, has stabilized over the past few months. That could point to fewer liquidations as bitcoin trades within a narrow price range, according to a report by Arcane Research.

Liquidations occur when an exchange forcefully closes a trader’s leveraged position as a safety mechanism due to a partial or total loss of the trader’s initial margin. That happens primarily in futures trading, which only tracks asset prices, as opposed to spot trading, where traders own the actual assets.

"We’ve rarely seen open interest being maintained at such levels for such a long duration without any major squeeze setbacks," Arcane wrote. Low trading activity doesn't last long, however, which means a breakout of the current BTC trading range could be imminent.

The chart in the second panel below shows the 30-day volatility of BTC open interest, which is far lower than the previous lows of 2% seen in July, late August and early December, which preceded brief upticks in trading activity.

Bitcoin open interest and volatility (Arcane Research, Skew)
Bitcoin open interest and volatility (Arcane Research, Skew)

Still, some indicators show a high degree of uncertainty among bitcoin traders, which suggests upswings in price could be limited.

For example, funding rates, or the cost holding long BTC positions in perpetual futures listed on major exchanges, have been neutral/negative over the past few months. That means sentiment among traders is neither bullish or bearish (lacking conviction) despite bitcoin's 30% advance from its Jan. 24 price low near $33,000.

Altcoin roundup

  • SportsIcon to open metaverse where athletes can interact with fans: Non-fungible token (NFT) platform SportsIcon unveiled plans for a sports-focused metaverse that will allow athletes to interact with supporters. The Sports Metaverse will allow users to trade non-fungible tokens (NFT), buy and develop land, and visit stadiums. The London-based company is developing games where users can earn its native token, ICONS, according to CoinDesk’s Camomile Shumba. Read more here.
  • Loopring’s LRC up 34% on beta release of GameStop NFT marketplace: LRC, the native token of Ethereum scaling network Loopring, soared on Wednesday after the blockchain project shared an update on its partnership with GameStop, the video game retailer whose volatile and sometimes coordinated price action in early 2021 made it a darling of meme stock traders. The LRC token's price rose as much as 34% over the past 24 hours. Read more here.
  • Stablecoin Cashio suffers 'Infinite Glitch' exploit, TVL Drops by $28M: Solana-based stablecoin protocol Cashio was exploited in an “infinite glitch” attack, developers said on Wednesday. Following the exploit, the value of Cashio's CASH token dropped to nearly zero. “Please do not mint any CASH. There is an infinite mint glitch. We are investigating the issue and we believe we have found the root cause. Please withdraw your funds from pools,” the team wrote in a tweet, according to CoinDesk’s Shaurya Malwa. Read more here.

Relevant news

Other markets

Digital assets in the CoinDesk 20 ended the day higher.

Largest winners:

Asset Ticker Returns Sector
Cardano ADA +9.2% Smart Contract Platform
Dogecoin DOGE +4.4% Currency
Polkadot DOT +4.1% Smart Contract Platform

Largest losers:

Asset Ticker Returns Sector
Bitcoin Cash BCH −6.0% Currency
EOS EOS −1.2% Smart Contract Platform
Ethereum ETH −0.9% Smart Contract Platform

Sector classifications are provided via the Digital Asset Classification Standard (DACS), developed by CoinDesk Indices to provide a reliable, comprehensive, and standardized classification system for digital assets. The CoinDesk 20 is a ranking of the largest digital assets by volume on trusted exchanges.


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Damanick Dantes

Damanick was a crypto market analyst at CoinDesk where he wrote the daily Market Wrap and provided technical analysis. He is a Chartered Market Technician designation holder and member of the CMT Association. Damanick is also a portfolio strategist and does not invest in digital assets.

Angelique Chen

Angelique is a market contributor at CoinDesk.