Good morning. Here’s what’s happening:
Prices: Dogecoin dropped into the red late Tuesday, while bitcoin and ether rose solidly as crypto markets absorbed the latest jobs report.
Insights: Jason Pagoulatos tied Binance's loss of market share largely to growing entanglements with regulators. He also opined about bitcoin's path forward.
A Bitcoin Rally Past $28.5K
DOGE was down and so were jobs. But bitcoin wasn't.
The largest cryptocurrency by market value was recently trading at $28,622, up 2.6% as investors contemplated a welcome dip in the heated job market but also remained cautious about the future after weeks of banking uncertainty.
Trading and volatility were light. On Monday, BTC had tumbled below the $28,000 threshold it has largely surpassed over the past two weeks after a rumor spread that Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao faced an international law enforcement request to detain him. (Binance denied the rumor in an email to The Block.)
"Bitcoin is hovering around the high end of its recent range as crypto traders await to see how it will benefit from the current banking crisis," said Edward Moya of Oanda, although he also noted that "the bitcoin bear case" was growing.
Ether (ETH) spent the day outperforming BTC and was changing hands above $1,900 for the first time since August. The second-largest crypto by market value was up 5.5% from Monday, at the same time.
Other major cryptos were largely in the green, albeit lighter shades. MATIC, the token of layer 2 platform Polygon, and SOL, the token of the Solana blockchain, recently jumped 5.2% and 3.8%, respectively. Popular meme coin DOGE dropped 0.7%. The decline came a day after it climbed dramatically as Elon Musk's Twitter replaced the social-media platform's familiar blue bird logo atop its homepage with the cryptocurrency's iconic Shiba Inu dog. DOGE is up 21% from the start of the week.
The CoinDesk Market Index, a measure of crypto markets' overall performance, was recently up more than 3%.
U.S. equity markets fell slightly with the tech-focused Nasdaq and S&P 500 both closing down about a half-percentage point. But gold – the traditional, safe-haven asset – soared above $2,000, reaching its highest level since last March after a U.S. Labor Department's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report showed job vacancies falling below 10 million for the first time in almost two years, and a day after another report showed durable goods orders waning. The signs of economic decline coupled with ongoing inflation concerns have created a favorable backdrop for more conservative assets that historically hold their value through good times and bad.
"A weakening economy continues to drive safe-haven flows towards gold," Oanda's Moya wrote. "The JOLTS report supported the view that the economy is steadily weakening its way towards a recession."
He added that investors should monitor bitcoin's price near the end of a Good Friday-shortened working week, and the U.S. Labor Department releases nonfarm payrolls (NFP) figures. "Bitcoin has had a key price barrier at the $30,000 level and if Friday’s NFP report shocks to the downside, we could see high-frequency trading systems and algos try to take advantage of any momentum opportunities," Moya wrote.
Jason Pagoulatos Talks Binance and Bitcoin
Even the giant among crypto exchanges, Binance, can't outrun bad news, the head of markets for crypto research firm Delphi Digital told CoinDesk TV in an interview Tuesday.
Jason Pagoulatos tied Binance's dramatic loss of market share over the past two weeks to its recent regulatory entanglements in the U.S. and beyond.
"I would definitely say a pretty big contributor to the decline in market share you've had these rumors of Binance being in trouble with global regulators," Pagoulatos said.
Binance remains the top exchange for trading volume, but its market share has tumbled from about 70% to 54% since the final weeks of March. To be sure, the plunge has come as the exchange halted its no-fee trading promotion for 13 bitcoin spot trading pairs. Binance witnessed its lowest bitcoin (BTC) trading volume since July 2022 on March 27.
But the exchange has also lost ground after the U.S. Commodity Futures Futures Trading Commission sued the exchange and founder Changpeng Zhao, alleging they offered unregistered crypto derivatives products in the U.S. against federal law.
On Monday, Binance suffered another blow when a rumor surfaced that Zhao faced an international law enforcement request to detain him, referred to as an Interpol Red Notice. On Twitter, Binance Chief Strategy Officer Patrick Hillmann wrote, "One of two things is true: 1. It's bulls**t; 2. A law enforcement agent is illegally leaking elements of a case file." He added: "My bet is #1."
Pagoulatos saw BTC's dip Monday following the rumor as a flight to safety. "When people are trading bitcoins, they're gonna be trading on places like Binance, Coinbase, Bybit," he said. "And when there are rumors of, say, the CEO of the biggest exchange being a wanted fugitive, people are obviously going to want to withdraw their money, sell their bitcoin, get it off as fast as possible."
Bitcoin has more recently rebounded above the $28,000 level where's its stood for large portions of the last two weeks. Pagoulatos hedged as to its future path. "We had this significant rally off $20K all the way up to $28K," he said. "And, like, $28K to $30K is a big area of significance. It's kind of where bitcoin was trading before Three Arrows Capital's collapse last year – that huge hedge fund liquidation event – so this area's going to be a tough spot for bitcoin to get through."
He added: "What's going to be interesting is what path bitcoin follows from here. Is it going to trade more in line with risk assets? Or does it trade more in line with what gold does?"
4:15 p.m. HKT/SGT(8:15 UTC) United States ADP Employment Change (March)
6:00 p.m. HKT/SGT(10:00 UTC) United States ISM Services PMI (March)
5:30 a.m. HKT/SGT(21:30 UTC) Australia Trade Balance (MoM/Feb)
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