Market Wrap: Bitcoin Tests $19.5K; Ether Options Interest in Doldrums

Market Wrap: Bitcoin Tests $19.5K; Ether Options Interest in Doldrums
CoinDesk 20 Bitcoin Price Index

Bitcoin has been able to hold above $19,000 as it has for the past several days. Meanwhile, the ether options market on Deribit has dipped in December although a block trade strategy in the $600-$800 price range has developed.

Bitcoin’s price continues to climb for the fourth consecutive day, going as high as $19,555 as of press time and breaking out of a $19,200-$19,400 range for the second time in the past 24 hours.

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However, some resistance in the form of sell orders around the $20,000 price level may limit the amount of upside in December. 

“It is an interesting picture: From one side it’s clear ‘buy the dip’ mood, from the other side we have $20,000 as a big resistance,” said Misha Alefirenko, co-founder of VelvetFormula, a digital asset liquidity provider. “It feels very bullish on charts.” 

According to CoinDesk 20 data, bitcoin has kept above the $19,000 price point since Dec. 13.

While bitcoin seems to be hitting bull mode after dipping below $17,800 this past Friday, Jason Lau, chief operating officer of San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange OKCoin, expects some selling to cap a fervent 2020 for the crypto markets.  

“The run-up in BTC since March has been extraordinary, so investors and portfolio managers may be seeking to take profits and offload their BTC before end of year for tax purposes,” said Lau. 

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Lau noted concern the upcoming distribution of long-awaited bitcoin from defunct exchange Mt. Gox might introduce some sell-side dynamics at some point, but he nonetheless remains positive. “Mt. Gox’s upcoming 140,000 BTC distribution is an overhang on the horizon,” he said, “but the fundamentals are still strong as ever.” 

In the bitcoin futures market, open interest cracked $7.4 billion once again, the first time since Nov. 24 and a sign sophisticated investors are increasingly hedging positions by using crypto derivatives.

“After an almost uninterrupted bull run in just two months, the path of least resistance for bitcoin is on the downside, or at least bouncing in the $18,000-$20,000 range for a while,” said David Lifchitz, chief investment officer of quant firm ExoAlpha. Over the past nine weeks, bitcoin has appreciated over 70%, according to historical spot pricing on bellwether exchange Bitstamp.

Another analyst also sees the $20,000 mark as tough to surpass. “Bulls need a new catalyst to strongly overcome the $20,000 resistance level, else the selling pressure at that level will keep it down,” added ExoAlpha’s Lifchitz. 

That catalyst may not arrive until next year, according to Michael Gord, chief executive officer of trading firm Global Digital Assets. “Once we start 2021, when the budgets for many institutional investors and enterprises reopen I expect to see a surge of new participation in bitcoin and of demand in companies having a strategy to implement digital assets,” Gord told CoinDesk. 

The second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, (ETH) was up Tuesday trading around $591 and climbing 0.80% in 24 hours as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET).

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The ether options market on top venue Deribit is in a December slump when compared to late November’s premium volume, according to data aggregator Genesis Volatility.

Of note for Tuesday is that a larger-than-normal block trade for ether options popped up, according to Greg Magadini, chief executive officer of Genesis Volatility. 

“Although the overall dollar value of options traded is still lower than November, we saw a nice pickup in block volumes today,” Magadini told CoinDesk. He sees Genesis’ data indicating that an options strategy is developing where traders buy $600 calls while simultaneously selling $800 call options. A call option gives purchasers the right, but not obligation, to buy the underlying instrument (in this case, 1 ETH).  “A big notable block trade we’ve seen today is a March $600-$800 call spread. If ETH is above $800 by March expiration, this position would be worth $350,000.”

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

Notable losers:

Equities:

Commodities:

Treasurys:

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