- Bitcoin has continued its strong rally seven weeks in a row, touching $19,000 on November 21
- Ethereum 2.0 has reached its threshold of 524,288 ETH and is poised for Phase 0 of the network upgrade. Anticipation of ETH 2.0 drove up ETH price to break through the $600 mark
- The current price rally is supported by short-term on-chain fundamentals, but the return of volatility may suggest that sentiment will prevail in driving the market in the near future
BTC saw a strong rally again last week, with the price opening the week at $15,930 and closing at $18,600 — posting a 17% gain. It broke through the $19k level on November 21, rendering the price $1,000 shy of its all-time high at $19,783. The breakthrough, however brief, also marked an intra-week high, as indicated by its 31% gain month-to-date. Over the weekend, the price dipped back under $17,700 but managed to recover above the $18.5k level despite volatile fluctuations.
The market garnered even stronger momentum running into Week 48, as the price hit the resistance level at $19.5k on November 24. If current momentum can be sustained, it’s highly likely that the price will eventually surpass $20,000.
The market cap of BTC has dipped slightly to 64.2% in Week 47. Here is a breakdown of major altcoins’ market cap.
On-chain fundamentals continued to support the price rally, as metrics began to converge to the historic highs of 2017. The number of active addresses is also climbing back to 6 million, while addresses with more than 1,000 bitcoins have already surpassed 2,000.
The number of whales however, are declining, suggesting that either the whales are taking profit amid the current bull run, or the distribution of BTC has been spread across more accounts.
BTC’s recent price surge is grounded in the fundamental economic theory of supply and demand. On the supply side, the mining of bitcoins has just returned to its normal range. This is most likely due to Chinese miners turning their rigs back on in mid-November, having switched from hydropower to alternative power supplies.
In addition, since the third BTC reward halving in May, new BTC supply experienced a severe cutback which, when coupled with the disruption of mining operations, could prove to be a major contributing factor to a possible bitcoin supply crisis.
The scarcity in circulation is particularly evident in the number of BTC on exchanges, which has dramatically decreased since the start of the year. The drop has accelerated since October, as more bitcoins are being withdrawn from exchanges. The large number of withdrawals could indicate that investors are holding onto their BTC for a longer period of time, signalling a strong belief that BTC has more potential to grow despite the current trend resembling the 2017 hype.
On the demand side, institutional buyers’ increased interest in BTC is a real force that’s buoying its price. As shown in the chart by Chainalysis, more institutional investors are buying at higher prices, similar to what was seen in 2017.
In addition, more institutional investors are investing in BTC. PayPal has been aggressively acquiring BTC since its recent leap into the crypto space. According to Pantera’s recently published investor letter, the increase in itBit volume implies that PayPal is already buying almost 70% of the new supply of bitcoins. Meanwhile, firms such as Square and Grayscale, have also accelerated their acquisition of bitcoins, rendering the current supply scarcity even more imbalanced.
With BTC closing seven green weeks in a row, some market participants might become weary of the bull and expect an imminent correction on the horizon, especially after BTC price establishes a support at the lower $18k range — previously uncharted territory. If the historic Fear & Greed Index serves as any indication, the excitement is real, perhaps too real. The level of “euphoria” is approaching the historic high of June 25, 2019, when BTC set a yearly high of $13,875, before plunging into a multi-month correction.
The price of ETH rose above the $500 barrier for the first time since 2018 on November 20, and has been charging towards the $600 mark without much resistance. The continuous upward trend could, in most part, be driven by the crypto community’s anticipation of Ethereum 2.0.
Meanwhile, the deposit threshold to kick start Phase 0 of ETH 2.0 — which requires a total of 524,288 ETH locked in the deposit contract — was reached on November 24. ETH 2.0 is now ready to embark on Phase 0 of the upgrade process, which is scheduled on December 1. The escalating amount of ETH locked in contracts indicates that a small portion of the tokens were taken out of circulation.
In addition, the mining difficulty of Ethereum has increased considerably since January 2020. Limited supply coupled with increased mining difficulty could be the reason behind ETH’s recent price rally.
Volatility has returned as the average level of funding rate spiked to a five-month high of 0.088%. A rising funding rate is usually associated with a large number of investors participating in leveraged trading.
A positive funding rate occurs when perpetual contracts are trading at a premium when compared to the spot market, and long positions would need to compensate the short positions to ensure contract prices are close to the index price. A high funding rate is a sign that leverage is skewed to the bullish side, showing that investors are making as much as they can from BTC’s bull run.
The growth of the CME bitcoin futures market also heralds increasing demand for more regulated exposure to bitcoin. Open interest on CME hit $1 billion last week, recording a new all-time high.
What to Expect?
Though it may seem that we’re reliving the hype of yesteryear, key indicators suggest that the current bull is different from that of the late 2017. The main differences being the gradual price increase, the duration of high prices, and the nature of buyers.
In 2017, the price surged rapidly from $15k to $20k, with little support in between. Currently, the price has consistently established support at several crucial levels, before making attempts to break through the next. The market has also witnessed the enormous inflow of institutional investment, whereby companies are looking at crypto to hedge against the weakening USD and an uncertain economic future.
In addition, any large price fluctuations would suggest the positive feedback loop is being propelled by FOMO. A market driven more by sentiment than by fundamentals is more likely to anticipate a massive correction.