- Bitcoin (BTC) trading around $52,184.38 as of 20:00 UTC (4 p.m. ET). Slipping 4.77% over the previous 24 hours.
- Bitcoin’s 24-hour range: $50,458.10-$54,762.75 (CoinDesk 20)
- BTC trades between its 10-hour and 50-hour averages on the hourly chart, a sideways signal for market technicians.
Bitcoin traders urged caution as prices for the cryptocurrency slid toward $50,000 for the first time in two weeks while the options market braced for volatility ahead of a record $6 billion contract expiration Friday.
“This is a time to make sure that you have some dry powder and are not overextended,” Chad Steinglass, head of trading at CrossTower, said in an emailed comment. “It seems as though buyers are stepping back, and instead of buying the dip are simply waiting on the sidelines to see what happens.”
Read More: Bitcoin Traders Brace for Record $6B in Options to Expire Friday
The largest cryptocurrency was unchanged to slightly lower Thursday, at around $52,100 as of 19:19 UTC (3:19 p.m. ET). Earlier, prices slid as low as $50,360. Bitcoin hasn’t traded below $50,000 since March 8, well off its all-time high above $61,000.
The U.S. dollar has strengthened recently to new highs in foreign exchange markets. Bitcoin is negatively correlated with the greenback, which means they often trade in opposite directions.
There’s also the monthly expiration looming Friday in the bitcoin options market. Analysts have warned the “max pain” point – where buyers have the most to lose and sellers the most to gain – would occur if the price plunged to around $44,000. The risk is considered remote but plausible.
“We’re currently looking for support in the range between $50,000 and $48,000,” Hunain Naseer, senior editor at OKEx Insights, told CoinDesk. “Any concrete signs of recovery are likely to show up after the options expiry on Friday.”
In the meantime, CoinDesk reported Thursday that blockchain data might be turning more bullish: An unusually large number of bitcoins are being withdrawn from cryptocurrency exchanges and going to an illiquid status – possibly an indication they’re being taken down by long-term holders who are unlikely to sell their tokens anytime soon.
Read More: Long-Term Holders Keep Accumulating Bitcoin Amid Latest Sell-Off: Blockchain Data
“Support only holds as long as there are a multitude of large buyers willing to step in if prices decline,” Steinglass said. “We’ll all have to wait and see.”
Ether faces near-term pressure
Ether (ETH) was down on Thursday, trading around $1,605.95 and slipping 1.86% in 24 hours as of 20:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET).
A key support level to watch is in the range of $1,500 and $1,600, according to OKEx Insights’ Naseer. If…