January was bitcoin’s best month since 2021, but crypto isn’t ready for a ‘rocket ship
Bitcoin is rounding out its best month in more than a year. It’s already recovered more than half of its 2022 losses and some say it’s found a bottom in this crypto winter. For some investors, however, its strong month isn’t necessarily a green light to jump back into the crypto market. As of Tuesday, bitcoin is set to finish the month up 38.39%, which would make it its best month since October 2021 and its best January in 10 years, according to Coin Metrics. Ether , which led the crypto recovery last summer ahead of the merge, has risen 31% this month, coming off a 67.06% decline for 2022. For the most part, bitcoin has been playing catch-up after it ended 2022 down 63.96%. At the same time, investor sentiment has gotten a boost from lower inflation readings and optimism around the possibility the Federal Reserve will soon slow down its inflation-fighting rate hikes. “The bad news and the subsequent headlines [at the end of last year] made bitcoin extra sensitive to good news,” said Callie Cox, U.S. investment analyst at investing company eToro. However, “we’re not so sure bitcoin is ready for another rocket ship rally just yet.” “If the Fed stops hiking, it’ll likely keep rates high until inflation is under control,” she added. “That could take a while, and we still don’t know if a recession will materialize or not. If it does, bitcoin could find itself under pressure as investment declines and unemployment rises.” BTC.CM= YTD mountain Bitcoin’s strong start While the bitcoin price could drop again, many investors see signs that the bottom was in at just below $17,000 in December. Bad news continued throughout January, mainly centered around crypto lender Genesis, which filed for bankruptcy more than a week ago, and its parent company Digital Currency Group. Investors are on the lookout for potential second and third order effects of the Genesis failure. Nevertheless, prices have continued climbing. On top of that, the amount of bitcoin transacted across exchanges is recovering , and bitcoin dominance , which shows how much of the crypto market cap is made up of bitcoin, has risen as much as 10% since the start of the year. “This marks the first meaningful increase since May 2022, i.e. during the fall of Luna,” Citi analyst Joseph Ayoub said in a recent note. “Thus far, the rise in BTC dominance looks reminiscent of April 2019, during which a BTC rally marked a crypto market bottom, much akin to rising BTC dominance lately.” Macro challenges ahead Looking ahead, the crypto options market is pricing in sustained upside volatility in bitcoin, and anticipating “as many upside shocks as downside shocks, a major deviation from 2022,” according to Greg Magadini, director of derivatives at Amberdata. As far as a bottom goes, he added, the macro picture remains a big challenge. “BTC displayed a lot of correlation with traditional risk assets in 2022, that trend isn’t likely to be over,” he said. “This means the future path of the Fed is still very much important.” The Fed began its two-day policy meeting Tuesday and investors will be watching at its conclusion Wednesday for its latest policy update. Lyn Alden, founder of Lyn Alden Investment Strategy, is looking at the Treasury as well as the Fed. Liquidity conditions in the fourth quarter improved thanks to the Treasury general account drawing down, adding liquidity to the system and offsetting the Fed’s quantitative tightening. “Once the debt ceiling is resolved, likely by early summer, the Treasury will need to begin refilling its Treasury cash account, which will suck liquidity out of the system,” she said. “There’s a decent probability that the bottom for bitcoin is in, but the market is not out of the woods yet until we see the resolution of the Treasury general account cash drawdown.” ” I consider this to be a very attractive long-term accumulation zone for 3-5 year holdings, but there is still plenty of risk with a 3-12 month view,” Alden added. Cox of eToro said with so much uncertainty remaining, she’s focused on the technicals and noted that bitcoin crossed its 200-day moving average in January, rising it rose above its own average closing of the last 200 days. Hitting that mark is considered and indicator that the asset is in an uptrend. Katie Stockton, a chart analyst and founder of Fairlead Strategies, is skeptical , however, that the rally will hold as the 200-day has proved to be a false signal for bitcoin before. Cox is more optimistic. “If bitcoin can hold that line, it could hover above $20,000 for a while. From there, I’d expect bitcoin to follow other risk assets for the foreseeable future – moving on speculation about the health of the economy and the Fed’s plan for rates,” she said.
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