Bitcoin broke through $9,500 Thursday and those short sellers betting on lower prices got liquidated by some crypto derivatives exchanges. That also helped push the world’s oldest cryptocurrency higher.
As of 20:50 UTC (4:50 p.m. ET), bitcoin (BTC) was trading at $9,447, up 2.9% over the previous 24 hours. Trading seems to support a higher upward climb with a large session of buying around 12:00 UTC (8 a.m. ET) briefly pushing price to as high as $9,526 on exchanges including Coinbase. Bitcoin’s price continued its rising trend from Wednesday, well above its 10-day and 50-day moving averages, a technical analysis signal of bullish sentiment.
“A breakout above $10,055 would be a catalyst for significant upside in our work, and support is now defined by the 200-day moving average, which is now at $8,377,” said Katie Stockton, an analyst that covers global markets at Fairfield Strategies.
Stockton doesn’t see the buying momentum for bitcoin slowing down anytime soon. “We think intermediate-term trend-following indicators are pointing higher,” she told CoinDesk.
Large price movements in the bitcoin spot market can often be attributed to the crypto derivatives markets. The derivatives exchange BitMEX, for example, automatically liquidates both long and short seller positions when price begins to quickly move. Bitcoin’s upward trend is being helped in this instance by short sellers getting squeezed out, which triggers automatic buy orders that help move prices higher.
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“There are definitely topside liquidations on BitMEX, and more than on average,” said Vishal Shah, an options trader and founder of derivatives exchange startup Alpha5. Over the past 24 hours, buy liquidations are at $39 million on BitMEX, and have far outpaced the $4 million in sell liquidations.
Since May 25, sell liquidations (shown in red in the above chart) have started to abate as buy liquidations grow (shown in blue).
The influence of BitMEX on the markets has been controversial as the exchange’s $700 million in liquidations during March’s precipitous price drop was considered a huge factor in downward selling pressure at the time.
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However, Shah says BitMEX’s influence, while still important, is not what it was prior to March. After hitting a high of $1.1 billion in open interest in February, it has not recovered since the March 12 crash and now stands around $630 million. “I do think BitMEX is turning more into a fractal of the market than the anchor. Open interest is definitely in osmosis.”
Along with short squeezes, it’s obvious…