Bitcoin Slips to $29K, but Fundstrat's Tom Lee Sees $150K on ETF Approval

Altcoins are leading declines, with majors like DOGE, SOL and MATIC shedding 6-7% in the past 24 hours.

AccessTimeIconAug 16, 2023 at 3:50 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 5, 2023 at 3:37 p.m. UTC

The price of bitcoin (BTC) barely held the $29,000 level early Wednesday as the summer slump in trading activity weighs on digital assets.

The largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization sank to as low as $28,930, the weakest level since August 7 and down from $29,400 a day ago. The price had bounced modestly to just over $29,100 at press time.

“Bitcoin still struggles to find any directional momentum as prices remain glued to $29K,” Vetle Lunde, senior analyst at digital asset firm K33 Research said in a report.

Ether (ETH) also slumped, changing hands at around $1,820 , losing 0.8% over the last 24 hours. The CoinDesk Market Index (CMI) is lower by 1.7%.

Alongside the bearish action Wednesday came a wildly bullish prediction from the oft-bullish Tom Lee of Fundstrat Global Advisors. Appearing on CNBC, he said approval of a spot bitcoin ETF could see the price jump more than five-fold from current levels.

“I think the demand will be greater than the daily supply of bitcoin, so the clearing price [...] is over $150,000, could even be $180,000,” Lee said.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is currently reviewing a slew of spot BTC ETF applications including from traditional finance giant BlackRock. Last week, the agency delayed a decision on Cathie Wood’s ARK21 application.

SOL, DOGE, MATIC lead altcoin fall

Major alternative cryptocurrencies – altcoins – crumbled during the day, vastly underperforming the CMI’s 1.7% decline, as well as BTC and ETH. Solana’s SOL, dogecoin (DOGE) and Polygon’s MATIC are each down between 5% and 7% over the past 24 hours.

Ripple’s XRP, fifth largest digital asset by market cap, buckled below 60 cents for the first time since its mid-July court ruling-inspired rally. It’s now lower by 4.7% over the past 24 hours and 19% over the past month.

“Current price action is marked by unusually low volatility, low levels of leverage and speculative activity,” Matthew Sigel, head of digital asset research at investment manager VanEck, said in an interview with CoinDesk TV. “Falling volatility has been a trend for much of the past year despite the extreme events which led to the bankruptcy of every major crypto lender.”

Interest rate worries persist

After being updated with the latest economic data, the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow model is now forecasting 5.8% U.S. GDP growth in the third quarter. That's up from the already speedy 5% previously forecast, and would be the fastest rate of quarterly economic growth since the fourth quarter of 2021, when the economy was charging ahead post-Covid.

Also Wednesday were the release of the minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's July meeting of its Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). Among other things, the minutes said most officials still see upside inflation risks and the need to hike rates further.

The two news items combined to help send the 10-year Treasury yield up five basis points to 4.27%, its highest level of 2023 and within a few ticks of a 15-year high. That put a further pinch in stocks, the Nasdaq falling another 1.15%, bringing its total losses in August to about 6%.

Edited by Stephen Alpher.


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Krisztian  Sandor

Krisztian Sandor is a reporter on the U.S. markets team focusing on stablecoins and institutional investment. He holds BTC and ETH.