Market Wrap: Bitcoin Hangs Around $18K While Ether Locked in DeFi Declines

Market Wrap: Bitcoin Hangs Around $18K While Ether Locked in DeFi Declines
CoinDesk 20 Bitcoin Price Index

Bitcoin steadied around $18,000 after record volumes on Wednesday while Ethereum 2.0 may be causing some investors to move ether out of decentralized finance (DeFi).

Bitcoin’s price rise stalled somewhat Thursday, with the world’s oldest cryptocurrency hitting as high as $18,170 before dipping below the $18,000 level, but back to $18,026 as of press time. 

Volume contributed to the weakening price action. At $1.79 billion, Wednesday was the highest volume day for major USD/BTC spot exchanges since way back on March 13, when volumes hit $1.98 billion the day after the “Black Thursday” crash. Today, daily volume on these exchanges were at a comparably tepid $867 million. 

A volume pullback from the second-largest day on the USD/BTC spot market in 2020 isn’t deterring analysts on their bullish prognostications. 

“The current upward move seems more sustainable than the 2017 bull run as institutional investors are now positioning in bitcoin whereas it was only retail speculation back in 2017,” said Elie Le Rest, partner at quant firm ExoAlpha. “Bitcoin confirms by its recent price move that it has a place in a diversified portfolio.”

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“The market’s infrastructure, regulatory regime and overall maturity is much more robust than previously,” said John Willock, CEO of crypto asset manager Tritium. “I fully expect a couple of pullbacks from these nominal mile markers such as $18,000, $19,000 and $20,000, but I do expect we should see the overall momentum continue through the rest of the year.”

Since Oct. 20, bitcoin’s 30-day volatility has been steadily rising, indicating that some price gyrations may still be on the horizon.

“No assets go parabolic forever,” noted Michael Gord, chief executive officer for trading firm Global Digital Assets. “Bitcoin has gone up over 50% in the past month and is due for a correction.”

“Long term I’m still very bullish and still seeing increasing interest from more traditional investors in bitcoin and other digital assets,” Gord added. 

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Investors are certainly looking at the derivatives market, with bitcoin futures (over $6 billion) and options (over $4 billion) open interest hitting new highs. CME, a professional investor venue, has flirted with $1 billion in bitcoin open interest this week, a sign institutions are increasingly hedging crypto positions.

Even permabulls like Henrik Kugelberg, a Sweden-based over-the-counter crypto trader, are prepared for some bumps in the road should bitcoin work its way to an all-time high. 

I expect a much larger drop pretty soon,” Kugelberg told CoinDesk. “But in all I can see BTC going to $23,000-$24,000 in the next month or two.”

The second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, (ETH), was up Thursday, trading around $475 and climbing 0.55% in 24 hours as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET).

The amount of ether “locked” in decentralized finance, or DeFi, is declining. The fall began Nov. 14, going from 8.9 million to 7.7 million ETH as of press time, according to aggregator DeFi Pulse.

Jean-Marc Bonnefous, managing partner for investment firm Tellurian Capital, suspects some of the ether movement out of DeFi might have to do with Ethereum’s ambitious “2.0” project. This requires some capital allocation to a smart contract set aside for staking something . 

“There is the need to find another 400,000 ETH to fill the first phase of staking into ETH 2.0 by the end of November,” said Bonnefous. “So this might explain some of the leakage out of DeFi.”

Digital assets on the are mixed Thursday, mostly green. Notable winners as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET):

Notable losers:

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