Over the past 18 days, the price of Bitcoin has been trading in a narrow range of $29,900 to $31,160, much to the perplexity of investors. Despite a significant rally in mid-June that pushed Bitcoin to its highest price in over a year, the cryptocurrency has struggled to maintain prices above $31,000. This price stagnation has left investors uncertain about the future direction of Bitcoin, especially considering the lack of clarity provided by on-chain and derivatives data.
Investor expectations were raised when BlackRock, the world’s largest fund manager, applied for a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) on June 16. Some analysts even predicted a price target of $100,000 for Bitcoin by the end of the year. However, the current price stagnation has frustrated traders who were betting on continued upward momentum. The reality of the situation is far removed from the anticipation, leaving investors searching for explanations.
To truly understand the current situation, it is crucial to consider the historical context. In mid-April, Bitcoin experienced a brief consolidation phase around $30,000 before eventually dropping to $28,000. This previous price movement has made investors wary of building positions at the current levels, leading to a preference for range trading. The historical data serves as a cautionary tale, reminding investors of the potential risks and pitfalls lurking in the market.
The regulatory environment has played a significant role in Bitcoin’s recent price action. While the initial excitement surrounded the possibility of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission approving a Bitcoin instrument for traditional financial markets, regulatory actions against major exchanges like Coinbase and Binance have caused negative price pressure. The combination of positive triggers, such as the ETF application, and a stricter regulatory environment has contributed to the current state of Bitcoin’s price movement, further complicating the outlook for investors.
When analyzing blockchain data, it is essential to look beyond trading and exchange flows and consider network activity as a whole. One key metric to consider is the number of active users on the Bitcoin network. Unfortunately, Bitcoin’s seven-day active addresses have failed to surpass 1 million, reaching levels similar to three months ago. Additionally, the peak of 1.02 million addresses in April 2023 was 16% lower than the all-time high in January 2021. This stagnation in active user growth suggests a lack of bullish momentum, painting a worrisome picture for investors.
To evaluate institutional demand, it is important to analyze the network’s address count for addresses holding a minimum of 100 Bitcoin, which equates to over $3 million at current price levels. Upon closer examination, this indicator has remained unchanged at 15,900 addresses for the past few months. The lack of growth in the number of whales accumulating Bitcoin further supports the notion that the ETF launch has not triggered significant bullish momentum. Without strong institutional demand, the chances of a sustained upward rally in Bitcoin’s price remain questionable.
Bitcoin derivatives metrics can provide valuable insights into the demand for leverage from professional traders. In neutral markets, Bitcoin quarterly futures contracts typically trade at a 5 to 10% annualized premium, known as contango. However, the Bitcoin futures premium crossed the neutral 5% threshold on June 26, just five days after breaking the $30,000 support level. This sudden shift towards bullish sentiment took investors by surprise and raised concerns about potential liquidations and panic selling if the price were to drop by 8% within a short period.
Another useful metric to consider is the 25% delta skew in the options markets, which indicates the anticipation of a Bitcoin price drop when above 7% or excitement when negative at a significant level. However, the 25% delta skew failed to sustain levels below the neutral threshold for more than four days, indicating a lack of sustained bullishness. The balanced demand between call and protective put options further reflects a lack of confidence from professional traders, adding to the overall uncertainty surrounding Bitcoin’s future.
Considering the findings from analyzing on-chain and derivatives data, it is disappointing that the indicators do not support the bullish momentum needed for further price gains. Despite the recent rally above $30,000, the data fails to reflect increased optimism. The price of Bitcoin remains 56% below its all-time high, and the impending court rulings against major exchanges create additional uncertainty. The current state of Bitcoin leaves investors searching for clearer signals of the cryptocurrency’s future direction, as they are left grappling with a market that seems to defy expectations and act against the anticipated trends.