Bitcoin made gains Tuesday toward its 2019 high while ether’s volatility rose after an October in decline.
Bitcoin’s price was on a steady run upward Tuesday, hitting as high as $13,756.33 before settling down to $13,668, according to CoinDesk 20 data. It is now within reach of its 2019 high of $13,879.24; any point above that puts bitcoin prices where they were during the late 2017-early 2018 bull run and subsequent collapse. Increased spot bitcoin volume, at $840 million, helped lead the price higher Tuesday. That figure has averaged $432 million daily over the past month.
Micah Erstling, trader at crypto liquidity provider GSR, said bitcoin has broken away from stocks, at least temporarily, not long after the world’s oldest cryptocurrency took a short dip Monday when stocks also fell. “Bitcoin quickly broke the correlation to stocks after yesterday’s plunge, rallying back even as stocks remained tepid,” he said. Indeed, major equity indexes were flat or down Tuesday.
“Most risk-on assets were impacted by news of a stimulus stalemate and rising virus numbers,” Erstling noted. “Traders are shaking off that sentiment today and returning to the long-term fundamentals that have propelled bitcoin to an over-85% gain” for the year to date.
“We’ve seen increased buying activity over the last two weeks,” said Michael Rabkin, head of Institutional Sales at crypto market maker DV Chain. “On top of that, the U.S. is close to approving a record $1.8 trillion stimulus plan. People are looking at alternatives like bitcoin to protect their wealth.”
Judging by the bitcoin options market’s open interest, positive sentiment seems to be picking up. Monday saw bitcoin options open interest crack $2.5 billion for the second time in October, with the first time being last Thursday, Oct. 22.
“Based on the bitcoin options data, a lot of traders are hedging and locking-in profits and current price levels,” Daniel Koehler, liquidity manager at San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange OKCoin, told CoinDesk. “Volumes are up across the board along with the price, so it is a sign of increased near-term bullish bias.”
The second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, ether (ETH), was up Tuesday, trading around $406 and climbing 3.7% in 24 hours as of 20:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET).
Ether’s volatility, measured by the standard deviation of daily log returns on an annualized basis, has been much higher than bitcoin’s volatility in 2020. While ether’s volatility had been dropping in October, it crept back up again, going from 49.99% Sunday to 51.75% Monday.
Ether itself is up over 210% in 2020, while bitcoin has risen over 88% this year so far. Quant trading firm QCP Capital on Tuesday noted ether’s market risks and its potential to underperform over the balance of 2020 due to exploitation of decentralized finance, or DeFi.
“ETH has been hit yet again by DeFi worries after another smart contract platform exploitation/hack – this time Harvest,” QCP wrote in its weekly investor note. “This will weigh further on ETH and could cause it to underperform BTC in the near term.”
Digital assets on the CoinDesk 20 are mostly green Tuesday. Notable winners as of 20:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET):