Bitcoin and Ether fell during Wednesday afternoon trading in Hong Kong but remained above key price levels, while most of the top altcoins were in the red. The altcoin bear market could last another two to six months, due to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) moves against these tokens, industry experts told Forkast.

See related article: Weekly Market Wrap: Bitcoin breaches US$31,195 following Fidelity’s spot Bitcoin ETF application

Bitcoin, Ether, most top 10 cryptos decline except Doge, Sol

Bitcoin inched down 0.21% from 7:20 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Hong Kong to US$30,735. Ether fell 0.61% in the same period to trade at US$1,929, floating above US$1,900 since Sunday.

On Tuesday, the price of Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency, rose to US$31,371, its highest since June 2022, over optimism about spot Bitcoin exchange-traded fund applications by a raft of Wall Street heavyweights, including Blackrock.  

While both Bitcoin and Ether remain firmly above key psychological levels, altcoins seem to lack momentum compared to the two largest cryptocurrencies.

“The delisting of specific assets from US cryptocurrency exchanges in June has accentuated a demarcation in asset performance that has existed since the start of the bear market in 2021,” Jamie Coutts, a senior market structure analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, told Forkast in a statement.

“Assets deemed commodities, Bitcoin and Ethereum (although not enshrined), have generated a collective return shy of 70% year-to-date and are 58% from their all-time highs. Meanwhile, SECurities have averaged a paltry 18.87% languishing 84% below their all-time highs,” wrote Coutts, adding that the altcoin bear market could last another two to six months.

Altcoins have suffered from the SEC’s crackdown on tokens that they deem financial securities. Solana, Cardano, Polygon and BNB were among those that the regulator named as unregistered securities in its lawsuits filed against the Coinbase and Binance.US exchanges in early June.

Litecoin was the day’s biggest loser in the top 10, falling 2.65% to US$104.49, followed by Binance’s BNB token that decreased 1.20% in the past 24 hours to trade at US$242.29. 

Dogecoin increased 0.45% to US$0.06858, followed by Solana’s Sol token that inched up 0.26% to US$19.20, as the day’s only two gainers in the top 10 cryptos.

The total crypto market capitalization over the past 24 hours fell 0.89% to US$1.2 trillion and market volume decreased 27.35% to US$27.24 billion, according to CoinMarketCap data.

Ethereum, BAYC NFT sales drop, Bitcoin Ordinals extend gains

The Forkast 500 NFT index rose 0.83% to 2,770.49 points in the 24 hours to 4:30 p.m. in Hong Kong but fell 3.35% during the week. 

After a weak Tuesday, Bitcoin’s 24-hour non-fungible token sales rose 41.21% to US$3.53 million, as sales for $FRAM BRC-20 NFTs rose 3.19% to US$1.36 million.

Ethereum’s 24-hour NFT sales fell 22.24% to US$19.07 million, as sales for the largest Ethereum-native NFT collection, the Bored Ape Yacht Club, fell 20.44% to US$2.33 million, but Mutant Ape Yacht Club sales rose 29.44% to US$2.3 million.

“The Forkast 500 NFT Index reflects declining sales prices across collections on all chains, but it’s Ethereum that’s really dragging the market down with it,” said Petscher, pointing to the recent problems with the Azuki NFT collection.

 “Azuki’s struggles exasperated the already struggling market … Azuki’s new Elementals mint was supposed to be a boom for NFTs and instead was a bust, becoming a catalyst that drove NFT collections down to all-time lows.”

Azuki sales continued their fall, decreasing 16.36% to US$1.66 million, after the new Azuki Elementals collection was criticized for being too similar to the original. The Azuki Elementals collection began minting last Tuesday and sold out in 15 minutes, but left collectors disappointed as the latest collection looked almost the same as the original.

Among the Forkast Labs NFT indexes, the Forkast SOL NFT Composite was the only one in the red, falling 0.75% to 791.91 points.

Asian equities, U.S. stock futures fall, as investors brace for more rate hikes

Major Asian equities weakened as of 4:30 p.m. in Hong Kong, as investors were cautious ahead of Chinese inflation data scheduled for release later this week, with the risk of deflation still weighing on the world’s second-largest economy. 

The Caixin China General Composite purchasing managers’ index (PMI) — a measure of the performance of both the manufacturing and services sectors in China — dropped to 52.5 in June from 55.6 the previous month. This marks the sixth consecutive month of expansion for China’s private sector. However, the growth rate was the slowest since January. 

Employment in China also returned to growth, as the service sector created more jobs following a drop in manufacturing payrolls, according to Trading Economics.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 slipped 0.25% and the Shenzhen Component Index fell 0.91%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index lost 1.57% and the Shanghai Composite decreased 0.69%.

U.S. stock futures also fell during Wednesday afternoon trading in Hong Kong, as investors were concerned that continued monetary tightening could lead the U.S. economy into a recession.

The S&P 500 futures index slipped 0.33%, the tech-heavy Nasdaq-100 futures weekend 0.48% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 0.3%. 

Investors now anticipate the release of the minutes of June’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting, scheduled for later today, for more clues on the central bank’s upcoming monetary decisions. 

Markets are expecting another 25 basis point interest rate hike this month, as Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that more rate increases are needed to bring inflation to the target 2%.

See related article: EU publishes draft bill for digital euro and cash payments

Updates with equities section.