Bitcoin and Ether remained relatively stable in Friday morning trading in Asia as most other top 10 non-stablecoin cryptocurrencies dropped. Litecoin recorded the biggest losses as unfavorable macroeconomic conditions prevented the coin’s halving event from pushing up its value. Elsewhere, Coinbase Global posted bullish Q2 earnings, with one executive expressing confidence the company can now go on to win its legal battle with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The Forkast 500 NFT Index was down, while U.S. equity futures gained on upbeat earnings reports. Traders are now looking ahead to the release of U.S. jobs data later on Friday.

Summer doldrums

Bitcoin rose 0.16% in the last 24 hours to US$29,208.94 as of 7:00 a.m. in Hong Kong, according to CoinMarketCap data. The world’s largest cryptocurrency briefly fell below the US$29,000 support line to a low of US$28,959.49 overnight. Meanwhile, Ether fell 0.24% to US$1,836.31 

Both Bitcoin and Ether held steady for the week, with Bitcoin posting a 0.10% increase and Ether recording a weekly loss of 1.04%. 

“The lack of moves probably has to do with the current circumstances of seasonality,” said Michaël van de Poppe, chief executive officer and founder of Amsterdam-based crypto trading company MN Trading. 

“Summer usually is relatively boring and combined with the constant flow of fear surrounding the crypto markets — in the regulatory framework with Binance recently and the Department of Justice — isn’t really pushing the markets forward,” Poppe added.

Poppe also said he sees the market remaining range bound for the foreseeable future.

“I think we’ll stay in this relative window unless we get news from the regulatory side of things with potentially an ETF approval or confirmation that altcoins aren’t securities,” he said.

Most top 10 non-stablecoin cryptocurrencies were down Friday morning. Litecoin led losses, falling 4.46% to US$83.39 for a 7.50% weekly decline. The Bitcoin-inspired cryptocurrency completed its halving event on Wednesday, which cut mining rewards in half for the token, increasing its scarcity. 

Adrian Wang, the chief executive officer of Hong Kong-based digital asset manager Metalpha said that the Litecoin halving failed to cause an uptick in price due to continuing difficulties in broader markets.

“There wasn’t enough momentum to support a big rally amid the increasingly tough macro environment as [interest] rates rose higher with no short-term sign of relief,” he said. 

Ripple XRP also slipped 2.90% to US$0.6666 for a weekly drop of 6.60% as the dispute between Ripple Labs and the U.S. SEC continues to rumble on. 

In July, a breakthrough in the case appeared to arrive as a New York district judge ruled that the Ripple-issued XRP token is not a security for individual traders. The ruling provided a timely boost for cryptocurrency prices across the board. However, the ruling also found that sale of XRP to institutional traders does violate securities law.

The sense of legal uncertainty is contributing to the slide in the token’s value. 

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse took to Twitter Wednesday to criticize the SEC for using XRP transparency reports against the company as part of the lawsuit. 

The SEC has begun legal proceedings against a number of U.S.-based cryptocurrency firms based on its claim that most tokens other than Bitcoin are unregistered financial securities. One such firm is Coinbase Global, which operates the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the U.S. 

After the company’s earnings call Thursday, Coinbase’s chief legal officer Paul Grewal expressed confidence that the company can win the litigation brought against it by the SEC. The Nasdaq-listed exchange exceeded Q2 revenue expectations, with a surge in interest income. 

The total crypto market capitalization fell 0.43% in the past 24 hours to US$1.17 trillion, while trading volume also fell 27.34% to US$29.27 billion.

Nifty’s NFT platform folds

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 0.43% in the past 24 hours to 2,479.47 as of 9:15 a.m. in Hong Kong. That drop contributed to a decline of 5.68% for the week and 10.68% for the month. Forkast’s Polygon and Cardano indexes recorded gains. 

Ethereum, the top NFT network in terms of trade volume, slipped 7.95% to US$12.67 million. Solana placed second in Cryptoslam’s blockchain ranking, surging 52.85% to US$1.43 million. 

Ethereum-based Bored Ape Yacht Club remains the top selling collection as it rose 43.06% to US$1.37 million over the past 24 hours. 

Three NFT collections from blockchain-based video games managed to place in Cryptoslam’s top five. 

DMarket and Gods Unchained Cards collections ranked second and third in terms of sales volume, marking themselves as steady sellers during the bearish market period. Sorare, the digital card collectibles from the fantasy football video game of the same name, also placed fifth on the chart, rising 18.84% to a 24 hour sales volume of US$566,677.

Ethereum-based generative art collection Art Blocks was fourth, adding 3.50% to US$694,478.

Meanwhile, NFT trading platform Nifty’s announced the closure of its business citing financial difficulties.

“Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, the investment opportunities we were working on didn’t pan out, and we now find ourselves at the end of our runway,” Nifty’s tweeted. “As a result, and with a heavy heart, we are winding down our operations as of today.” 

Nifty’s, founded in 2018, curated prominent NFT collections, such as works by Beeple and Daniel Arsham. 

According to CoinGecko data, the Blur NFT marketplace captured 56.80% of total market share among the top six platforms in February, followed by OpenSea, which owned 36.5%.

Total NFT trading volume fell 5.40% in the past 24 hours to US$18.49 million, according to data from CryptoSlam.

Earnings and jobs data

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Image: Getty Images

The three major U.S. stock futures indexes were up as of 11:45 a.m. in Hong Kong, recovering from a decline during regular trading on Thursday. 

In Asia, key stock markets — China’s Shanghai Composite, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index, Japan’s Nikkei 225 and South Korea’s KOSPI — all gained on Friday. 

Chinese stocks are heading toward a second consecutive week of growth, as investors anticipate further economic growth policies from Beijing. China’s GDP growth fell short of expectations in July.

U.S. stocks gained after trading hours on the latest round of earnings announcements Thursday. Amazon reported strong earnings, beating expectations. Online travel firm Booking Holdings, sports betting company DraftKings and crypto exchange operator Coinbase Global all also posted positive second quarter earnings.

Apple’s earnings, however, disappointed with iPhone sales revenue below expectations. The company recorded the third straight quarter of declines. Airbnb and cybersecurity firm Fortinet also posted underwhelming quarterly earnings.

Investors now await Friday’s U.S. jobs report for July. Wall Street experts expect the number of nonfarm payrolls to have increased by 200,000, according to CNBC. That number would be the smallest gain since December 2020 and may indicate an economic contraction.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve — on summer recess in August — next meets to discuss interest rates on Sep. 19 and 20. After a 25 basis point hike in July, rates now stand between 5.25% to 5.50%, the highest since January 2001. 

The CME FedWatch Tool predicts an 82.5% chance that the Fed will leave the interest rate unchanged at the next meeting. It predicts a 17.5% chance of another 25-basis-point hike.

(Updates to add equities section)