CME Ethereum futures go live, Bitcoin caps its best week ever: 5 things to watch this week

CME Ethereum futures go live, Bitcoin caps its best week ever: 5 things to watch this week

Bitcoin (BTC) bulls seem firmly in the driving seat this week as the largest cryptocurrency begins Monday at near $40,000.

After climbing through much of the previous week’s trading, BTC/USD is now up 15% compared to seven days ago — what’s next?

Cointelegraph takes a look at five factors which may influence where Bitcoin heads in the coming few days.

Stocks hit records but dollar declines

Bitcoin’s ascent prior to the weekend was accompanied by a familiar scenario on macro markets.

Despite the coronavirus and its fallout continuing to wreak havoc on many economies worldwide, stock markets hit new all-time highs, with the S&P 500 closing its biggest weekly gain since last November. Oil climbed above $60 a barrel for the first time in more than a year on Monday.

The mood was buoyed by the prospect of fresh spending in the United States as lawmakers looked to finalize the details of President Joe Biden’s $1.9-trillion stimulus package.

As Bitcoin proponents have consistently noted since the start of the pandemic and before, more spending means more money concentrated closer to the government and central bank — a phenomenon known as the “cantillon effect” — paving the way for continued interventions in stock markets among other areas.

At the same time, the U.S. dollar has suffered in recent days, part of an ongoing narrative that states that the world’s reserve currency will continue to decline.

The U.S. dollar currency index (DXY) abruptly fell below 91 on Monday, reversing its recent uptrend, which had begun in mid-January.

U.S. dollar currency index (DXY) 1-day candle chart. Source: TradingView

Despite mixed views over stimulus, political sources appear to be fully signed up to inflating the money supply as the only option.

“I remain concerned, as a medium-term worry, with secular stagnation, believe that fiscal policy will need to be much more active in the years ahead, and certainly share the administration’s view that policy should err very much on the side of expansion at a moment like this,” Lawrence Summers, chief economic adviser to Barack Obama, wrote in the Washington Post on Sunday.

“But these kinds of qualitative considerations do not provide a basis for judging whether $900 billion in short-term stimulus should be followed immediately by a $1 trillion, $1.9 trillion or $5 trillion measure, prior to an ultimate multitrillion-dollar public investment measure.”

As Cointelegraph often reports, DXY weakness tends to result in stronger performance on BTC/USD, though the negative correlation has noticeably diminished since September 2020.

BTC rolling 90-day return correlations vs. USD, VIX, Gold, S&P500. Source: Digital Assets Data

BTC price sees best weekly close

After biding its time, Bitcoin is thus beginning to look like it could soon exit its established short-term trading zone between $30,000 and $40,000.

Signs that this is on the cards were already present — fundamentals were at all-time highs and various indicators pointed to the start of 2021 forming the first innings of a bull run, not the last.

This week continues the trend, with network hash rates at record levels and difficulty set to increase by almost 5% at the next readjustment in 10 days’ time.

Sunday’s weekly close officially forms Bitcoin’s highest ever.

BTC/USD 1-week candle chart (Bitstamp). Source: TradingView

“There will be pullbacks, maybe even to retest the top of the flag as support,” popular trader Scott Melker summarized about the market with a new chart prediction on Saturday.

“But technically this is a confirmed breakout that should take $BTC to 63K eventually. Disclaimer – patterns rarely reach their targets, but the rules are the rules.”

The weekend saw Bitcoin’s first decisive overshoot of $40,000 in almost a month, fuelling anticipation that a restructuring of price-performance could follow.

D-Day for Ether futures

As strong as Bitcoin looked, however, Monday was all about altcoins and, in particular, Ether (ETH).

After passing all-time highs of its own last week, the largest altcoin has received its own dedicated Ether futures from CME Group.

With a wave of professional traders now tipped to enter, excitement was already clearly visible on the market over the past week as Grayscale added to a buying frenzy that sent ETH/USD above $1,750.

Now, however, attention is turning to whether performance can continue, or if the futures launch will be an anti-climax that conversely triggers corrective behavior.

“Personally, I’m not entering the markets at all here,” Cointelegraph Markets analyst Michaël van de Poppe told Twitter followers on Sunday.

“Gradually taking profits have been my game recently on the swing trades through which I’m flexible in the coming weeks to come. I simply don’t know how markets will react from tomorrow onwards with the CME futures.”

Van de Poppe added that should a reversal ensue, likely support levels lay significantly below spot price — at $1,100–$1,175 and $875–$950, respectively.

In 2017, the launch of the first Bitcoin futures coincided with a price build-up, followed by a comedown that triggered a year-long bear market. At the same time, futures uptake came much more slowly than thought, only hitting its stride in 2019.

ETH/USD 1-day candle chart (Bitstamp). Source: TradingView

Bitcoin dominance points downward

It is not just futures fuelling Ether, however, and continued investment in DeFi and other major altcoins could continue to cause a headache for Bitcoin.

DeFi tokens have surged this year, and the past week has seen five altcoins gain in excess of 115%.

As such, Bitcoin’s share of the overall cryptocurrency market cap is dwindling. Currently at 61%, its presence has returned to its position from October last year, just 5% off one-year lows.

Cryptocurrency market cap dominance chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

“In January 2017, after the second halving, we were only a few weeks away from a HUGE Altcoin Season,” popular Twitter commentator The Moon noted, adding a chart comparing Bitcoin dominance now and three years ago.

“The #Bitcoin Dominance dropped 60%, and Altcoins made 20X, 50X, 100X gains. What do you think, can something similar happen again?”

Right on cue, the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, returned with fresh publicity for meme-based altcoin Dogecoin (DOGE) on Monday.

“Doge appears to be inflationary, but is not meaningfully so (fixed # of coins per unit time), whereas BTC is arguably deflationary to a fault,” he claimed on Twitter.

“Transaction speed of Doge should ideally be a few orders of magnitude faster.”

As Cointelegraph reported, the success of Ether and DeFi is not without its problems. Transaction fees in the form of gas have exploded as prices have increased, leading to issues for users and exchanges alike.

$90,000 by April?

Right on track — that was the conclusion from quant analyst PlanB about Bitcoin’s performance after its most recent halving event last May.

In a Twitter update, the creator of the stock-to-flow family of price forecasting models showed that compared to the post-halving periods in 2013 and 2017, Bitcoin was right in the middle.

As such, depending on whether Bitcoin’s next move is more akin to the former or latter, price targets range between an average of $100,000 or $288,000.

BTC/USD post-halving comparison. Source: PlanB/ Twitter

Bringing halving-based predictions closer to the present, meanwhile, popular commentator Bitcoin Archive devised a $90,000 aim for as soon as April this year.

The reason, the account claimed, is that BItcoin is in fact following 2017 post-halving behavior, but “much higher.”

“If we continue along this path 90k in April/May is the target,” it summarized, using data from Ecoinometrics.