First Mover Americas: Bitcoin Holds Above $46K Amid ETF Anticipation

The latest price moves in crypto markets in context for Jan. 9, 2024.

AccessTimeIconJan 9, 2024 at 2:04 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 9, 2024 at 5:46 a.m. UTC

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Bitcoin held above $46,500 on Tuesday morning after briefly touching $47,000 as the ETF race ramps up. The cryptocurrency has gained around 5% over the past 24 hours. While most market analysts say the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will approve a spot bitcoin exchange-traded fund, some do not see this happening. Youwei Yang, the chief economist at BIT Mining, said in an email to CoinDesk that he thinks no spot bitcoin ETFs will be approved in the near future. Rather, Yang expects the SEC to delay approvals for at least another 3 months. “A delay with some reasons or excuses could still possibly occur, such as questioning of manipulative behaviors sometimes observed in the crypto market that are still unclear, and its criminal or terror activities some congress members claimed that crypto has involved,” Yang wrote. Other analysts think the news has already been priced in, Matteo Bottacini, a trader at Crypto Finance, said that most market participants have been well-positioned for some time now, limiting the upside potential.

BlackRock (BLK) and VanEck, two of the 13 firms hoping to launch bitcoin (BTC) ETFs in the U.S., filed updated documents on Tuesday. The filings indicate that the two were among the prospective issuers to receive comments from the Securities and Exchange Commission in the past 24 hours. CoinDesk reported earlier that the SEC sent comments to a set of prospective issuers just hours after the companies filed documents detailing fees for their proposed products on Monday. Among the changes in the latest updated filing on Tuesday is wording that seeks to mitigate damage to shareholders in the event of insolvency and avoid a conflict of interest between the ETF’s authorized participants.

The discount on the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), the world’s largest bitcoin fund, slipped to the narrowest since April 2021 ahead of an expected conversion to a spot bitcoin ETF. Data shows the discount shrank to as low as 5.6% on Monday, reaching a level last seen in June 2021. The fund has traded at a discount since February 2021 – reaching a high of nearly 50% in December 2022 – but expectations of an ETF approval and rising bitcoin sentiment have steadily eroded the gap. GBTC shares closed Monday at $39. Each share holds $41.86 in bitcoin as of Tuesday. The trust has no built-in market mechanism to keep the GBTC share price trading close to the underlying value of the bitcoin – opening up discounts and premiums that traders can use as part of a trading strategy.

Chart of the Day

  • The chart shows the number of "bitcoin ETF" mentions on social media (bars) and bitcoin's price since November.
  • The market has been squarely focused on the ETF optimism, setting the stage for "sell the fact" price drop following the SEC's approval of spot exchange-traded funds.
  • The U.S. SEC is likely to approve one or more spot ETFs by Jan. 10.
  • Source: Santiment

- Omkar Godbole

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Edited by Sheldon Reback.


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Lyllah Ledesma

Lyllah Ledesma is a CoinDesk Markets reporter currently based in Europe. She holds bitcoin, ether and small amounts of other crypto assets.