Bitcoin traded below US$25,000 on Thursday afternoon in Asia for the first time since March 17 this year, when it stood at US$24,973. Ether, alongside all other top 10 non-stablecoin cryptocurrencies, also dropped amid lawsuits by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) against two of the world’s biggest crypto exchanges, Binance and Coinbase. As widely expected, the U.S. Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged on Wednesday. However, the Fed warned of more rate rises to come later in the year as the central bank attempts to bring inflation down to its 2% target level.

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Bitcoin continues slide; SEC-targeted coins drop

Bitcoin, the world’s biggest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, dropped 3.82% to US$24,909 in the 24 hours to 4 p.m. in Hong Kong. That brought its weekly losses to 5.80%, according to CoinMarketCap data. The dip took Bitcoin below US$25,000 for the first time in the week since the U.S. SEC filed lawsuits against Binance.US and Coinbase. 

Ether, the second biggest cryptocurrency after Bitcoin, lost 6.10% to US$1,635 in 24 hours, and has dropped 11.24% on the week. Ether dropped below US$1,700 on Thursday afternoon in Asia for the first time since March 17 when it stood at US$1,667.13. 

Solana, Cardano and Polygon – the top three cryptocurrencies named as securities by the U.S. SEC in its lawsuits against both Binance.US and Coinbase – each dropped more than 20% over the past week. 

Cardano’s ADA token lost 5.76% to US$0.2561 in the past 24 hours. Its market capitalization was also down 7.10% in the last 24 hours to US$8.88 billion. On June 5 — the day the SEC filed a legal complaint against Binance.US claiming crypto tokens including ADA, Solana and Polygon’s Matic are securities requiring registration and regulation — that figure stood at US$13.02 billion.

Solana dropped 1.87% in the past 24 hours to US$14.78. Its market cap declined 2.75% to US$5.88 billion in the same period, down from US$8.15 billion on June 5.

Polygon’s Matic token also dived 4.94% to US$0.6151 in the past 24 hours. Its market cap lost 5.92% to US$5.70 billion in that period, down from US$8.01 billion on June 5. 

“The status of individual cryptocurrencies has led some exchanges in specific markets to contemplate delisting some of the larger and widely followed altcoins such as ADA, SOL, and MATIC,” said Robert Quartly-Janeiro, Chief Strategy Officer of crypto exchange Bitrue, in an emailed statement. 

“What sets the current situation apart is the regulatory focus shifting from market-providing exchanges to scrutinizing individual altcoins: that’s a step change. In raw numbers, the affected coins have experienced bearish performances, with Cardano dropping by 24%, Solana down by 28%, and Polygon shedding 27% in the past week. Other altcoins witnessed similar declines,” Quartly-Janeiro added. 

Ripple’s XRP token led the losers in the crypto top 10. It fell 6.45% in 24 hours to US$0.4697, posting a weekly loss of 9.87%. 

Those losses came despite the release of the so-called “Hinman documents” this week. The documents suggests that cryptocurrencies liker Ether are not in fact securities, as claimed by the SEC. Its release was therefore widely expected to prove favorable for Ripple in its own ongoing legal battle with the regulator, which began December 2020. 

BNB, the native token of the world’s biggest crypto exchange Binance — whose U.S. operations are now the target of the SEC’s regulatory clampdown — lost 4.49% in the 24 hours to US$235.83, and is down 9.66% on the week. 

The global crypto market capitalization dropped 3.53% to US$1.02 trillion, while total crypto market volume gained 22.04% to US$38.21 billion in the last 24 hours. 

NFT sales drop; Sotheby’s to host auction in New York

The indexes are proxy measures of the performance of the global NFT market. They are managed by CryptoSlam, a sister company of Forkast.News under the Forkast.Labs umbrella.

In the non-fungible token (NFT) market, the Forkast 500 NFT index dropped 0.88% to 2,904.24 in the past 24 hours, after losing 10.77% in the last seven days.

The Forkast ETH NFT Composite also dropped 1.04% to 1,029.13, and is down 6.73% on the week. Similarly, sales on Ethereum, the leading blockchain by volume, dived 6.77% to US$13.47 million over the last 24 hours. 

Ethereum-based Bored Ape Yacht Club topped sales by collection in the past 24 hours, rising 95.90% to US$1.32 million. But, according to Yehudah Petscher, NFT Strategist at Forkast Labs, trading in the market is now so thin that little can be read into even such a large swing.

“In general, volume is just so low, so on any given day it can be up or down a big percentage just from typical trading,” he explained. 

Among other developments in the industry, Sotheby’s, the world’s largest art auctioneer, will host Grails: Part II, a live digital art auction in New York, on Thursday. The auction will feature some of the most renowned generative artists in the NFT space. As much as US$10 million is expected to change hands over the course of the auction. Featured artists will include Art Blocks founder Snowfro, Tyler Hobbs, creator of Fidenzas, and Dmitri Cherniak, creator of Ringers.

“The holy grail is the Ringers #879 (The Goose) by Dmitri Cherniak that is rumored to have bidders willing to pay well over the projected US$1-3 million sale price,” Petscher said about the auction.

Elsewhere, SuperRare, a curated NFT marketplace for digital artworks, has introduced “Fragments of The Dreams: A Surrealist Vision,” a new exhibition that showcases a collection of surrealist photography from SuperRare artists including Ben Zank, Brooke DiDonato, and Cowboy Killer.

Founded in 2018, SuperRare has recorded over US$300 million in total sales and over US$180 million earned by artists to date, according to an emailed statement by the public relations spokesperson for the company.

Meanwhile, Be., a subsidiary of Animoca Brands, and the Australian Football League (AFL) has announced the Throwbacks series. The group of AFL collectible NFTs feature well-known moments from the sport’s past, highlights, and player profiles.

Similarly, Mocaverse, the Animoca Brands membership NFT collection, has partnered with Rarible, an NFT platform for creators and brands, to launch Mocaverse Marketplace. The Mocaverse Marketplace will offer 0% platform fees on native listings of its collection to the Mocaverse community, the company said in an emailed statement.

Asian equities rise; European bourses, U.S. futures drop

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Image: Envato Elements

Asian equities mostly rose on Thursday, after the People’s Bank of China  lowered medium term lending rates to some financial institutions. The central bank reduced roughly US$33.1 billion worth of one-year medium-term loans by 10 basis points to 2.65% from 2.75%.. 

The Shanghai Composite gained 0.74% and the Shenzhen Component Index rose 1.81%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 2.17% but Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell slightly by 0.05%.

U.S. stock futures dropped as of 8.30 p.m. in Hong Kong. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 0.16%, and S&P 500 futures lost 0.36%. Nasdaq 100 Futures also dropped 0.66%. 

U.S. retail sales unexpectedly rose 0.3% month-on-month in May, after a 0.4% increase in April, beating the expected 0.1% decline.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Federal Reserve kept its interest rates unchanged at 5% to 5.25% but signaled it may raise rates later in the year.

“Both core and headline inflation are coming down, but core is still pretty high. The target of 2% is still way off,” said Nigel Green, founder and chief executive officer of financial management group deVere, in an emailed statement. 

“And the Fed is obsessing over the tightness of the labor market as, despite the 15-month-long inflation battle, unemployment is still near record lows. As such, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if rates were hiked to 6% by the end of 2023,” Green added.

The European Central Bank raised interest rates by an expected 25 basis points on Thursday to 3.5%, the highest rate since the financial crisis of 2008. 

The benchmark STOXX 600 dropped 0.59% and Germany’s DAX 40 lost 0.86% during afternoon trading hours in Europe. 

“With inflation coming back as a key threat, coupled with the Fed’s focus now firmly on bringing inflation back to the 2% target, the case for including commodities in portfolios grows stronger,” Oliver Taylor, multi-asset fund manager, and Joven Lee, multi-asset strategist, at Schroders, said in a note on Thursday. 

“Multi-asset investors should re-consider commodities as a strategic holding in portfolios. An arbitrary 10% allocation to commodities could provide a pickup of ~0.3% expected returns for portfolios with 10% expected volatility,” Taylor and Lee added.