Ether (ETH), the second-largest cryptocurrency by market value, could rise nearly 70% from current levels and hit $4,000 by May as applications for spot-based exchange-traded funds (ETF) will likely win regulatory approval in the U.S., Standard Chartered Bank said in a report on Tuesday.
Led by research head Geoff Kendrick, the StanChart analysts expect that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – as it did with Bitcoin – will delay decisions on spot ETF applications until eventually giving a green light on the first final deadline. This puts May 23 as provisional day for an approval, the date of final deadlines for applications by asset managers VanEck and Ark/21Shares.
The market currently underestimates the odds of an approval, according to the report, but the bank sees "no fundamental reason" for the SEC to treat ETH differently than bitcoin. It highlighted that ETH futures are also listed on the regulated Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and the SEC did not include ETH among the 67 cryptocurrencies the agency claims to be securities during its legal fight against Ripple.
"Heading into the expected approval date on May 23, we expect ETH prices to track, or outperform, bitcoin (BTC) during the comparable period," wrote Kendrick and team.
BTC surged 85% from around $25,000 in mid-June – when asset management giant BlackRock filed for an ETF – to roughly $47,000 when the spot ETFs won approval on January 10.
The report also said that ETH would face less selling pressure after a potential ETF approval than BTC, because the Grayscale Ethereum Fund (ETHE) has a smaller market share of ether market capitalization than the Grayscale Bitcoin Fund (GBTC), with even less shares held by the FTX bankruptcy estate.
Bitcoin tumbled to as low as $38,500 last week from a $49,000 high on January 11 when BTC ETFs started trading, with market observers pointing to GBTC fire-sales with some $5 billion in outflows since its conversion into an ETF.
The StanChart report also added that the first type of ether ETFs in the U.S. will likely track spot ETH price and not include staking rewards.
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