Bitcoin Options Traders Shrug Off Post-CPI Choppy Price Action

The mood in the options market remains positive even as the cryptocurrency struggles to build upside momentum on the back of a bullish U.S. inflation report.

AccessTimeIconJul 13, 2023 at 11:36 a.m. UTC
Updated Jul 13, 2023 at 5:52 p.m. UTC

In financial markets, traders are constantly reading between the lines to gauge what's coming next. So when a rising market fails to respond to a positive piece of news, traders tend to take it as a sign of an impending trend reversal lower and become cautious.

But that's not always the case. Bitcoin's options market shows traders remain confident of the cryptocurrency's price prospects despite the choppy action in the wake of Wednesday's softer-than-expected U.S. consumer price inflation (CPI) data, which weakened the case for continued Fed tightening and powered traditional risk assets higher.

On Deribit, the dominant crypto options exchange, the call-put skews are still positive across all timeframes, signaling a persistent bullish bias, according to data source Amberdata.

A call option gives the purchaser the right to buy an asset at a predetermined price on or before a specific date, an implicitly bullish outlook. A put option gives the right to sell. The call-put skew measures the spread between volatility pricing for bullish calls and bearish puts.

According to crypto over-the-counter institutional liquidity network Paradigm, traders snapped up bitcoin calls expiring in December during the post-CPI price drop to nearly $30,200 from $31,000. The bullish flow, however, was limited compared with the one seen during a similar price dip on Monday.

Bias for calls remains intact despite choppy price action in the wake of the U.S. CPI data. (Amberdata)
Bias for calls remains intact despite choppy price action in the wake of the U.S. CPI data. (Amberdata) (Amberdata)

The options market turned decisively bullish on BTC after BlackRock's June 15 application for a spot-based bitcoin exchange-traded fund with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Since then, the positive mood in the options market has held intact, and bitcoin has rallied over 20%.

"Only about a third of the open options positions in the market are puts, highlighting that crypto markets remain biased, as they have for a long time, towards calls," Lawrence Lewitinn, a director at The Tie, wrote in Wednesday's edition of the newsletter.

What next?

Bitcoin's inability to cheer the CPI figure has perplexed many observers, with some attributing the lack of upside to a large movement of coins previously seized from the notorious darknet marketplace Silk Road.

Analysts are confident the rally will soon resume with more demand flowing in once prices top the $31,000 mark.

"In BTC, a move above 31,400 and a close above 31,000 are needed to unlock further demand and gains," Richard Usher, head of OTC trading at crypto payments services provider BCB Group told CoinDesk. "The soft reading on the U.S. CPI should underpin the risk on tone across asset classes."

Paradigm voiced a similar opinion, saying prices could rise to $35,000-$37,000.

"BTC skew is calls > puts across the curve with flag patterns and Fibonacci retracements suggesting $35,000-$37,000 is the next stop if we can meaningful break the $31,000 resistance," Paradigm wrote.

Edited by Sheldon Reback.


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Omkar Godbole

Omkar Godbole is a Co-Managing Editor on CoinDesk's Markets team.

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