Market Wrap: Bitcoin Dips Below $19,000 as Ether Options Volume Drops

Market Wrap: Bitcoin Dips Below $19,000 as Ether Options Volume Drops
CoinDesk 20 Bitcoin Price Index

Some bitcoin selling on Friday caused its price to decline. Ether options traders appear less inclined to place bets on the asset’s price, as evidenced by lower Deribit volume.

Bitcoin prices slipped on sell volume at around 10:00 UTC (5 a.m. ET) Friday, pushing price below the $19,000, albeit temporarily. It was up to $18,975 as of press time. 

Low spot volumes on CoinDesk 20 exchanges are plaguing the market for the third day in a row, with Friday’s $973 million in daily volume as of press time lower than Thursday’s $1.1 billion in daily volume and Wednesday’s $1.3 billion in trading activity across the eight major exchanges.

However, spot trading activity often belies the impact of the institutional market, which often uses over-the-counter or quantitative strategies to scoop up bitcoin, noted Joel Edgerton, chief operating officer of cryptocurrency exchange bitFlyer. “We are watching Grayscale and PayPal continue to suck up BTC, but volumes should be lighter over the weekend as traders assess their positions,” said Edgerton. (Grayscale is a sister company to CoinDesk.)

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Some tax-related profit-taking might be in store for the balance of December, added Edgerton. “We are also getting to the point where investors in the U.S. start to review their portfolios from a tax optimization point of view, which could lead to selling pressure in the U.S. over the next few weeks.”

“Bitcoin has had a good run for the last two months, so a pause or even a pullback are and have been expected,” said Elie Le Rest, partner at quantitative trading firm ExoAlpha. He also suspects there will be further sell-offs as various market participants such as miners or long-term holders may look to exchange crypto for cold hard cash. “The interest is to sell in a strong market in order to reduce their negative market impact,” he said, “but as the markets look weak, they may not sell right now.”

According to data from aggregator Glassnode, the number of bitcoin addresses withdrawing from exchanges is much lower than those depositing so far this year. Glassnode calculates over 200,000 separate addresses have been receivers in transactions receiving funds from exchanges in 2020.

Meanwhile, over 700,000 addresses appeared as senders in transactions sending bitcoin to exchanges in 2020 so far.

More bitcoin is going into exchanges than coming out, at least according to Glassnode data. What traders plan to do with those balances is anyone’s guess, but ExoAlpha’s Le Rest also reiterated the potential for December profit-taking. “After a torrid bull run, a sideways or even a 15% pullback is definitely expected before a new bull run can take place.” Le Rest added.

(ETH), the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, was down Friday, trading around $588 and slipping 4% in 24 hours as of 21:15 UTC (4:15 p.m. ET).

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After a surge of ether options volume on derivatives venue Deribit at the end of November, market interest seems to have dissipated, according to Greg Magadini, chief executive officer for data aggregator Genesis Volatility. “Volumes are decreasing and implied volatility is dropping. There is no clear decisiveness at the moment,” Magadini told CoinDesk.

“Traders are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach right now in the ETH options market,” Magadini added. He noted that traders aren’t even all that interested in downside protection in the form of put options. That’s an indicator that many options traders expect ether’s price to bounce back up. “As ETH retraces below $600, no one is enthusiastic about buying puts,” he said.

Digital assets on the are mixed Friday, mostly red. Notable winners as of 21:15 UTC (4:15 p.m. ET):

Notable losers:

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Equities:

Commodities:

Treasurys:

Psychology, Sell Pressures Keep Bitcoin Below $20K

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