The bitcoin market is back in bull mode but for one key attribute, almost like a missing tooth: low trading volume.
Bitcoin’s price on Thursday extended its winning streak to a seventh day as a renewed appetite for risk-taking in traditional markets sent U.S. stocks to new record highs. The catalyst was a U.S. government report on Wednesday showing a slower-than-expected inflation rate in February, which assuaged investors’ concerns that fast-rising consumer demand might send prices shooting higher as the economy reheats.
“Risk sentiment in global markets has been very upbeat in the aftermath of yesterday’s U.S. inflation data,” Joel Kruger, cryptocurrency strategist at LMAX Digital, told CoinDesk. “This has helped to offer additional support to the bitcoin market.”
The one giant asterisk is that spot-market activity has remained muted amid the latest rally, with trading volume on eight major spot crypto exchanges CoinDesk tracks staying relatively flat for more than two weeks.
“There aren’t as many sellers right now after the price was very supported in late February down into the $44,000 area,” Kruger said. “You continue to have buyers, though the buying just hasn’t been as heavy. Overall, that creates upwards pressure.”
Kruger warned that investors should stay cautious in the short term before the Federal Reserve’s meeting next week, when U.S. central bank officials led by Chair Jerome Powell are expected to clarify their latest thinking on monetary policy.
The largest cryptocurrency has been cast by digital-market analysts as both an inflation hedge and a risky asset, but over the past week the price has just kept going up, seemingly indifferent to the swings witnessed on Wall Street.
“I think bitcoin is going to be sensitive to periods of downturn in stocks right now because it is still a maturing asset and therefore an emerging asset,” Kruger said. “This gives it properties at the moment that are still very much risk correlated.”
Ether (ETH), the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, was up on Thursday, trading around $1,812.13 and climbing 0.26% in 24 hours as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET).
The correlation between bitcoin and ether is trending downward again after rising for about two weeks starting Feb. 21. Compared with the same time period a year ago, the correlation between the No. 1 and No. 2 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization is slightly weaker, dropping to about 0.74 from 0.94.
Yves Renno, head of trading at crypto payment platform Wirex, pointed out that although bitcoin’s share of the overall cryptocurrency markets has climbed over the past couple days, its market dominance currently stands at just 62.3%, down from a recent high around 72% in January.
“Altcoin traders are taking profits and institution cash is still flowing mainly into bitcoin,” Renno said.
Digital assets on the CoinDesk 20 are mixed Thursday. Notable winners as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET):