Bitcoin, Ether and all other top 10 non-stablecoin cryptocurrencies fell on Thursday morning in Asia as the U.S. public holiday this week slowed trading and some investors seemed to be taking profits off recent gains. Bitcoin is still up 1% for the week, with BlackRock’s head Larry Fink backing the world’s biggest cryptocurrency as having the potential to revolutionize finance. Litecoin and Cardano led the losers.

Bitcoin driver

Bitcoin fell 1.06% over the last 24 hours to US$30,465 at 06:35 a.m. in Hong Kong, while its weekly gain stood at 1.02%, according to data from CoinMarketCap. The token, which had a market cap of US$591 billion as of Thursday, has risen 83% so far this year in a rebound from the bear market slump in 2022.

“Bitcoin is still the main driver of trading volume albeit that is also soft – no doubt linked to the July 4th U.S. public holiday washing through,” said Caroline Bowler, the chief executive officer of Australia-based crypto exchange BTC Markets, in a text message to Forkast.

“We may be seeing the effects of this reduced liquidity and greater asset concentration playing out, with some greater price sensitivities in trading,” Bowler added. “The industry is coming out of the prolonged bear market so this is to be expected.”

The price dip came after a run up in many tokens sparked by growing optimism around the possible approval of Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in the U.S., which will open the cryptocurrency to a wider pool of investors.

BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager that oversees about US$10 trillion, filed applications to launch the first publicly traded spot Bitcoin ETFs on June 15. It refiled the application on Monday after the regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission, reportedly said it was lacking in detail.

Larry Fink, chief executive officer of BlackRock Inc., said Wednesday that he wanted to “democratize” cryptocurrencies with the ETF filings, in an interview with Fox Business. Fink also said Bitcoin is an international asset that could revolutionize finance.

Ether lost 1.55% to US$1,911, though it was holding onto a gain of 4.40% for the past seven days.

All other top 10 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization lost ground, with Litecoin and Cardano leading the losing pack.

Litecoin slipped 3.84% to US$102.19 in what appeared to be profit taking after the token gained ahead of its halving on Aug. 2 and its listing on EDX Markets, the Wall Street-backed crypto exchange in the U.S. that opened on June 20. Litecoin is still up 22.72% on the week. 

Cardano’s ADA lost 3.60% to US$0.2843 while adding 5.61% for the week. Today’s correction also seemed linked to profit-taking, even as parent company Input Output Global Inc. on Wednesday released Marlowe, a so-called toolset to build smart contracts on the blockchain. 

The total cryptocurrency market cap fell 1.32% to US$1.19 trillion in the last 24 hours, while crypto trading volume rose 0.58% to US$31.27 billion, according to CoinMarketCap data.

Blurry outlook for NFTs

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 rose 0.96% in the 24 hours to 07:30 a.m. in Hong Kong to 2,801.94, but logged a loss of 1.72% for the week. While the Forkast Ethereum NFT index rose, the indexes measuring the performance of Solana, Polygon and Cardano-based NFT markets all declined.

Investors remain basically pessimistic, said Yehudah Petscher, NFT Strategist at Forkast Labs, the parent company of Forkast.News.

“Forkast 500 NFT Index is up almost 1%, though still has traders wondering if this is a dead cat bounce, or if there is enough value with these discounted NFT prices that collections have fallen to recently,” Petscher said. “Most are betting this is not the bottom, and a new update from the Blur marketplace has traders worried.”

Blur marketplace took the NFT world by storm when it launched last November, and its 30-day trading volume surpassed previous NFT leader OpenSea in February. Blur picked up more steam when it launched Blend, a peer-to-peer lending protocol for NFTs on May 2.

Blur is expanding its popular reward system that distributes $Blur tokens to users that have met certain criteria as “airdrops,” but Petscher says this could be bad news for NFTs overall.

“​​Blur is introducing rewards for trait offers, which means traders who bid on specific NFT traits on select projects will receive Blur reward points. These points will contribute to the amount of $Blur tokens that traders will receive at the end of Blur’s season 2 airdrop,” said Petscher.

This will lead to more farmers — buyers that generate income through staking NFTs — to prevail in the market over pure collectors.

“The concert with the new mechanic is that traders will artificially inflate the rarer NFTs in collections, as you receive more points the higher a bid is from the floor price of the collection,” said Petscher. “We’ll see how the new trait offers affect NFT prices, but it’s expected to continue artificially inflating NFT prices, and then culminate in floor crashes like we saw recently.”  

By NFT collections, Bored Ape Yacht Club topped the trading volume rankings on Cryptoslam with US$3.76 million, with the volume surging 74.52% on the day. Uncategorized Bitcoin Ordinals — unique digital assets on the Bitcoin network that are not identified as part of one established collection — placed second by transactions volume, rising 22.03% to US$1.86 million.

Total NFT trading volume dropped 4.61% to US$28.3 million. Volume on Ethereum fell 9.36% to US$19.3 million according to Cryptoslam data. Volume on the Bitcoin network gained 11.97% to US$3.69 million, while volumes on Polygon, Solana and BNB also rose.

Equity futures slip

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U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen | Getty Images

U.S. stock futures dipped as of 10:45 a.m. Thursday in Hong Kong, pointing to another down day for stocks that fell during regular trading on Wednesday. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq all declined by about 0.1%.

Minutes from the Federal Reserve’s June meeting showed most Fed officials favor more interest rate increases this year, adding to the conviction the U.S. will raise rates again this month, according to Trading Economics. This concern hit Asian equities as well.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng, Japan’s Nikkei 225 and South Korea’s Kospi all moved lower. China’s Shanghai Composite managed a marginal gain of 0.1% on Thursday.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen arrives in Beijing on Thursday and investors anticipate that the meetings she will have through July 9 may help stabilize relations between the world’s two largest economies, currently marked by sanctions and distrust.

On economic indicators, the U.S. releases initial jobless claims and the services purchasing managers’ index on Thursday.

The Federal Reserve’s next meeting on rates is July 26. The CME FedWatch Tool predicts a 88.7% chance for a 25-basis-point rate increase, up from 87.4% on Tuesday. The likelihood the Fed won’t increase is now at 11.3%.

(Updates to add equities section)