Bitcoin and Ether prices dropped on Monday morning in Asia, but remained above the support levels of US$29,000 and US$1,800 respectively. The drop coincided with news of a hack at DeFi exchange Curve Finance. Most other top 10 non-stablecoin cryptocurrencies traded lower, with Tron’s TRX token leading the losers. The Forkast 500 NFT index dropped while U.S. equity futures edged higher. Analysts suggest that improved economic resilience and easing inflationary pressures will lead the Federal Reserve to pause interest rate hikes after its decision to raise the rate by 25 basis points in July. 

Bitcoin flat, altcoins fall on Curve Finance hack

Bitcoin dipped 0.36% in the last 24 hours to US$29,261 as of 07:45 a.m. in Hong Kong and lost 2.65% for the past seven days, according to data from CoinMarketCap. The world’s largest cryptocurrency reached a low of US$29,059 on Sunday, but remained above the support level of US$29,000.

On Sunday, decentralized stablecoin exchange Curve Finance reported a security flaw on the platform. According to data from smart contract auditing firm BlockSec, hackers drained an estimated US$41 million worth of cryptocurrencies from the platform as a result of the malfunction.

Curve Finance is the third largest decentralized financial exchange (DEX) by 7-day trading volume, according to DeFi data tracker DefiLlama.

CRV, the native token of Curve DAO and the Curve Finance platform, dropped over 13% in the past 24 hours. Its trading volume surged almost 15 times to over US$228 million, indicating panic among Curve Finance users.

“Surprisingly, CRV DAO perpetual futures are still trading at a small premium, indicating that traders are more focused on moving positions away from the DEX (regarding total value locked) rather than shorting the token,” said Markus Thielen, Head of Crypto Research & Strategy at digital asset service platform Matrixport, in an emailed comment. 

Ether fell 1.06% to US$1,862, holding a weekly loss of 1.38%.

“The market has been trading soft and sideways since the surge around the XRP ruling earlier this month,” said Singapore-based crypto asset trading firm QCP Capital in a Sunday market note.

“However, the market is expecting a spike in volatility and possibly a large price increase in BTC towards the end of the year and into next year with the Blackrock spot ETF ruling as well as the Bitcoin Halving,” said QCP Capital.

Most other top 10 non-stablecoin cryptocurrencies also logged losses, with Tron’s TRX token leading the losers. It fell 3.97% to US$0.08008, down 3.89% for the week. 

Despite the price drop, average daily transactions on the Tron network reached over 9 million in the second quarter of 2023. That daily volume has contributed to an annual rise of 91.24%, according to a report released by Coin98 Analytics on July 19.

Cardano’s ADA token was the only top 10 crypto logging gains. It edged up 0.39% to US$0.3141, but was still trading 0.98% lower for the week.

Meanwhile, the third halving event for Litecoin will occur Wednesday.  The halving event will cut the mining reward for each successfully minted Litecoin block from 12.50 LTC to 6.25 LTC, increasing its scarcity and potentially triggering a rise in the token’s price.

Litecoin dipped 0.32% in the past 24 hours to US$94.13, but gained 1.00% in the past seven days.

The total crypto market capitalization fell 0.45% in the past 24 hours to US$1.18 trillion, while trading volume rose 36.21% to US$24.14 billion.

Forkast 500 index falls, monthly NFT trades hit two-year low

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.

The Forkast 500 NFT index fell 1.40% in the past 24 hours to 2,550.87 as of 10:45 a.m. in Hong Kong, a drop of 4.60% for the week and 10.53% for the month.

Forkast’s Ethereum, Solana, Polygon and Cardano NFT market indexes all logged losses. For the 30-day period, Cardano is the only network seeing an increase in its NFT index with a gain of 4.76%.

Total NFT trading volume fell 14.52% in the past 24 hours to US$15.74 million, according to data from CryptoSlam. Volumes on the Ethereum, BNB Chain, Bitcoin Polygon and Cardano networks fell. The Solana and ImmutableX networks logged increases.

Total NFT trading volume in July totaled about US$481 million, the lowest since June 2021. The evaporating volume coincided with five consecutive months of negative returns, with NFT investors in the red for more than US$45 million in July.

“The losses are really adding up. Sellers continue to lose. It’s a very difficult space,” said Yehudah Petscher, NFT Strategist at Forkast Labs, in a Monday Youtube video. “And this is why you are seeing so many fewer people trading now, because there is no profit.”

By NFT collections, Ethereum-based Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) saw the largest 24-hour trading volume, even as it fell 11.32% to US$844,296. DMarket and Gods Unchained Cards, which are both in-game NFT items, ranked second and third. 

Elsewhere, Yuga Labs, the developer behind BAYC, held a closed demo of its upcoming metaverse project Otherside on Friday, which would allow Yuga Labs users to turn their NFT collections into playable characters in the metaverse.

“Yuga Lab’s Otherside metaverse is getting even closer to release,” said Petscher, “Which in the future, will be a larger NFT release for all BAYC holders.”

U.S. equities on track for July gains

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Image: Getty Images

U.S. stock futures traded lower as of 11:50 a.m. in Hong Kong. However, the three major U.S. stock indexes closed higher in regular trading Friday, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite leading the winners with a 1.90% gain, and are all poised to end July with strong gains.

In Asia, the main stock indexes moved higher on Monday morning. China’s Shanghai Composite, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng, South Korea’s Kospi and Japan’s Nikkei all rose. 

With the exception of Kospi, the other three Asian indexes closed higher last week, after China hinted at more policy stimulus to spur its economy and Japan proposed to raise its minimum hourly wage to a record high.

China’s National Bureau of Statistics on Monday said the country’s manufacturing PMI rose to 49.3 in June.

Although higher than market predictions, it’s below the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction, and highlights the need for more economic support from the government, Bloomberg reported the same day.

Data out of the U.S. last week seemed to be pointing to a soft landing for the economy as the pace of inflation slowed after more than a year of aggressive rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The personal consumption expenditures price index rose 3.0% on year in June, the slowest in two years and a key inflation gauge used by the Fed. The data, together with growth in gross domestic product in the second quarter, indicates less likelihood of a recession. 

The Fed will take a data-driven approach to decide its future moves on interest rates, said Fed Chair Jerome Powell last week, suggesting to some analysts the U.S. central bank is open to pausing the rate hikes in September, after raising a quarter of a point this month.

The Fed meets on Sept. 19 and 20 to make its next decision on rates, which are now between 5.25% to 5.50%, the highest level since January 2001. The CME FedWatch Tool predicts a 80.5% chance the Fed will keep rates unchanged in September, and a 19.5% chance for another 25-basis-point increase.

This week in the U.S. includes second-quarter earnings from tech heavyweights such as Amazon and Apple. The S&P Global’s U.S. manufacturing purchasing manager’s index (PMI) is out Tuesday and the July employment report on Friday, with all offering more peeks into the health of the economy.

(Updates with equity section.)