Bitcoin’s (BTC) sudden crash on Jan. 10 caused the price to trade below $40,000 for the first time in 110 days and this was a wake-up call to leveraged traders. $1.9 billion worth of long (buy) futures contracts were liquidated that week, causing the morale among traders to plunge.
The crypto “Fear & Greed” index, which ranges from 0 “extreme fear” to 100 “greed” reached 10 on Jan. 10, the lowest level it has been since the Mar. 2020 crash. The indicator measures traders’ sentiment using historical volatility, market momentum, volume, Bitcoin dominance and social media.
As usual, the panic turned out to be a buying opportunity because the total crypto market capitalization rose by 13.5%, going from a $1.85 trillion bottom to $2.1 trillion in less than three days.
Currently, investors seem to be digesting this week’s economic data that shows United States December 2021 retail sales going down by 1.9% compared to the previous month.
Investors have reason to worry about stagflation, a scenario where inflation accelerates despite the lack of economic growth. However, even if this eventually proves that Bitcoin’s digital scarcity is a positive characteristic, markets will still take shelter with whatever asset is deemed safe. Thus, the first wave will potentially be damaging for cryptocurrencies.
Bitcoin price was flat over the past seven days, effectively underperforming the altcoin market’s 7% gain. Part of this unusual movement can be explained by layer-1 decentralized applications platforms showing a positive performance that was driven by Fantom (FTM), Cardano (ADA), Near Protocol (NEAR) and Harmony (ONE).
Loopring (LRC), a zkRollup open protocol for decentralized exchanges on Ethereum, presented the worst performance of the week. The DEX volume using the protocol peaked at $30 million per day in early December 2021, but is now near $6 million. Meanwhile, Dfinity (ICP) and Chainlink (LINK) are adjusting after a 40% or higher rally in the first 10 days of 2022.
Tether’s premium and the futures premium held up well
The OKEx Tether (USDT) premium or discount measures the difference between China-based peer-to-peer (P2P) trades and the official U.S. dollar. Figures above 100% indicate excessive demand for cryptocurrency investing. On the other hand, a 5% discount usually indicates heavy selling activity.
The Tether indicator bottomed at a 3% discount on Dec. 31, which is slightly bearish but not alarming. However, this metric has held a decent 2% discount over the past week, signaling no panic selling from China-based traders.
To further prove that the crypto market structure has held, traders should analyze the CME’s Bitcoin futures contracts premium. That metric analyzes the difference between longer-term futures contracts to the current spot price in regular markets.
Whenever this indicator fades or turns negative, it is an alarming red flag. This situation is also known as backwardation and indicates that bearish sentiment is present.
These fixed-month contracts usually trade at a slight premium, indicating that sellers request more money to withhold settlements for longer. As a result, futures should trade at a 0.5% to 2% premium in healthy markets, a situation known as contango.
Notice how the indicator flipped negative on Dec. 9 as Bitcoin traded below $49,000 but it still managed to sustain a slightly positive number. This shows that institutional traders display a lack of confidence, although it is not yet a bearish structure.
Considering that the aggregate cryptocurrency market capitalization is down 9.5% to date, the market structure held rather nicely. The CME futures premium would have gone negative if there had been excessive demand for short-sellers.
Unless these fundamentals change significantly, there is not yet sufficient information available that would support calls for a sub-$40,000 Bitcoin price.
The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.
Ray Schuetz received a Masters Degree in computer science from The University of Texas (Austin). Ray has been working as a full-time blockchain consultant for the past 3 years. In his spare time, Ray enjoys writing for EthereumCryptocurrency.com and other crypto news publications.