Home Opinion and Features Bitcoin falls to lowest since February as fears of sales persist

Bitcoin falls to lowest since February as fears of sales persist

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Bitcoin fell for a fourth-consecutive trading session, reaching the lowest since February, on concerns about potential selling by governments, creditors of a failed exchange and beleaguered crypto miners.

A Bitcoin sign is seen in a window in Toronto, Canada. File picture: Reuters

BITCOIN fell for a fourth-consecutive trading session, reaching the lowest since February, on concerns about potential selling by governments, creditors of a failed exchange and beleaguered crypto miners.

The original digital asset fell as much as 8% to $53,602 (R974,276), before paring the decline by about half. Most cryptocurrencies fell broadly even as stock markets advanced, highlighting the array of challenges facing the industry.

Bitcoin is now down about 25% from its March record, as the buzz around US exchange-traded funds investing directly in the token gives way to fears of higher-for-longer interest rates and political uncertainty.

On top of this administrators of the failed Mt Gox exchange are returning an $8 billion hoard of Bitcoin to creditors in stages. Uncertainty about how much of that will eventually get sold has weighted on markets. A Mt Gox-linked wallet moved $2.7bn worth of the token on Friday, according to Arkham Intelligence.

There are also signs that German authorities are preparing to sell some of the 50,000 Bitcoin that they seized earlier from online criminals. Bitcoin miners, meanwhile, are under pressure to unload tokens to cope with evaporating profitability.

Meanwhile, MSCI Inc’s gauge of global stocks is hovering near a record high and a short-term, 30-day correlation between Bitcoin and the index is plunging. The question is whether risk aversion in crypto is isolated or heralds a circumspect quarter for mainstream investments too after a strong first-half for shares.

“There’s just a general lack of buzz in crypto markets right now,” said Stefan von Haenisch, the head of trading at OSL SG Pte. “Most news that is currently being spread, for example Mt Gox selling, is more bearish in nature.”

Von Haenisch said crypto needed more dovish notes on monetary policy from the US Federal Reserve, adding “one to two rate cuts, coupled with Fed balance sheet expansion, were two key ingredients that crypto is really waiting for.”

Willy Chuang, the chief operating officer at crypto exchange WOO X, said that the selling pressure would mostly concentrated in the short term.

“It’s worth noting that despite these concerns, the long-term impact may be less severe as the market gradually absorbs the selling pressure,” Chuang said. “Short-term market fear is expected, but in the long term, these negative factors may gradually dissipate.”

A report on Friday showed US hiring moderated in June and prior months were revised lower, bolstering prospects that the Fed will begin cutting interest rates in coming months.

Bitcoin hit a peak of $73,798 in March, buoyed by unexpectedly strong demand for inaugural US ETFs for the token. The inflows have since ebbed, taking Bitcoin lower and casting a pall over the rest of the digital-asset market.

Approvals for debut US ETFs for No 2-ranked token Ether are pending, but interest in the products could be mixed if the crypto sell-off continues.

More than $536 million bullish crypto positions were liquidated in the past 24 hours, Coinglass data showed. The liquidations over the past three days are among the most since April.

“Poor weekend liquidity will exacerbate any moves triggered by liquidations, even small ones,” said Caroline Mauron, the co-founder of digital-asset derivatives liquidity provider Orbit Markets. In the meantime, the return of US investors from the July 4 holiday should help bring some stability, she added.

The operators of the power-hungry computers that underpin the Bitcoin blockchain are continuing to absorb the financial hit of April’s so-called halving, which curbed the new tokens they receive for the work they do. One response from these Bitcoin miners is to sell some of their inventory of tokens.

Daily miner revenue has dropped by 75% to $26.5m since the April halving, data from CryptoQuant shows. Transaction fees earned by miners has declined to 3.7% of total revenue after jumping to a high of 75% earlier that month.

“The $51,000-$52,000 range is crucial as a lot of Bitcoin miners are reaching their break-even point for profitable mining,” said Le Shi, head of trading at market making and algorithmic trading firm Auros.

– BLOOMBERG

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