Bitcoin slipped 0.04% on Tuesday afternoon in Asia but remained above US$30,000. Ether also dropped, while other top 10 non-stablecoin cryptocurrencies traded mixed after a week of gains led by crypto-related exchange-traded fund (ETF) applications in the U.S..  Asian equities and U.S. stock futures gained while European markets traded mixed.

See related article: Singapore outlines design framework for interoperable networks in collaboration with financial firms

Bitcoin, Ether dip in 24 hours, but post weekly gains 

Bitcoin dropped 0.04% to US$30,402 in 24 hours to 4 p.m. in Hong Kong, but strengthened 13.32% in the past seven days, according to CoinMarketCap data. Prices of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency by market capitalization have been on the rise since a number of traditional institutional players showed interest in introducing Bitcoin exchange-traded-fund (ETF), indicating its mainstream acceptance.

“Retail investors have been steadily accumulating Bitcoin over the years, and a significant portion of the supply remains untouched by long-term holders,” Rajagopal Menon, Vice President of WazirX, India’s largest crypto exchange by volume, told Forkast in an emailed response. 

“With the influx of institutional investors and the consequent surge in Bitcoin demand, the limited supply and illiquid nature of Bitcoin are poised to propel its price higher,” Menon added. 

Ether, world’s second-largest crypto exchange, fell 0.97% to US$1,875 in 24 hours, but has risen 8.41% on the week.

Cardano’s ADA token was the biggest loser among top 10 cryptos, dropping 2.63% to US$0.2828, which brought its weekly gains to 9.11%. Solana was the second biggest loser in the top 10, falling 1.26% to US$16.73 in the last 24 hours, but has gained 4.76% in the past seven days. 

The U.S. SEC filed lawsuits against crypto exchanges Binance.US and Coinbase in the week of June 5. In doing so, it named several altcoins as financial securities, including Cardano, Solana, Polygon and BNB. 

“Bitcoin has surged to a new yearly high, leaving the altcoin market trailing, partly due to the U.S. SEC declaring them securities. This shift in liquidity dynamics, where funds seem to be flowing from altcoins to Bitcoin… indicates the potential for Bitcoin to sustain its upward trajectory, potentially at the expense of altcoins,” Menon of WazirX added.

Bitcoin Cash, the spin-off of the world’s largest cryptocurrency, gained over 108% in the last seven days as investors hope the Bitcoin-based altcoin receives the same categorization as commodities by U.S. regulators. Bitcoin Cash rose 13.9% to US$220.68 in the 24 hours to 5.10 p.m. in Hong Kong on Tuesday, according to CoinMarketCap data. 

“Bitcoin has been outpacing Wall Street recently. It is attracting an increase in exposure and interest from institutional investors, which typically include pension funds, hedge funds and sovereign wealth funds,” Nigel Green, chief executive of financial advisory firm deVere Group, said in an emailed statement on Monday. “Investors should ‘follow the big money’ as institutional funds flow into Bitcoin,” Green added. 

Crypto exchange Bybit said on Monday it has received a license to operate a crypto exchange and provide custody services in Cyprus. The license from the regulatory authorities in Cyprus would allow the company to provide services including trading between crypto and fiat currency pairs, financial services related to crypto assets, and custody solutions tailored to clients in Cyprus and E.U. member states. 

Seychelles-based crypto exchange Bitget said on Monday it has launched a local website and a fiat gateway in Turkey, enabling local users to trade on Bitget using the Turkish Lira (TRY). Fiat Gateway serves as a bridge connecting traditional financial systems and digital assets, enabling transactions between fiat currencies like USD, EUR, or TRY, and cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. 

The global crypto market capitalization fell 0.09% to US$1.18 trillion, while total crypto market volume rose 11.12% to US$35.63 billion. 

Azuki NFT collection outsells BAYC on Ethereum

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 dipped 1.24% to 2,878.63 in 24 hours to 5.30 p.m. in Hong Kong, but has gained 0.21% over the past seven days.

The Forkast ETH NFT Composite also dropped 0.42% to 988.48, bringing its weekly losses to 1.28%.

NFT sales volume on Ethereum rose 18.50% to US$18.62 million in 24 hours, while that on the Bitcoin network fell 23.06% to US$4.94 million, according to CryptoSlam data.

Sales of Ethereum-based Azuki increased 98.3% to US$4.4 million, making it the most-sold collection in the last 24 hours, as NFT enthusiasts await the Tuesday minting of Azuki’s new Elementals collection.

“Right now this is the talk of NFTs, and traders are looking for liquidity to have their chance at this mint, or to have enough funds to purchase on secondary,” said Yehudah Petscher, NFT Strategist at Forkast Labs, the parent company of Forkast.News.

“The narrative in the NFT space is that Azuki seems primed to give BAYC (Bored Ape Yacht Club) a run for being the top NFT collection,” Petscher added.

BAYC ranked second by sales volume, gaining 1.88% to US$2.17 million in the last 24 hours. 

Asian markets, U.S. stock futures gain; European markets mixed

equities 6
Image: Envato Elements

Asian markets mostly rose after Chinese Premier Li Qiang said on Tuesday that the world’s second largest economy would achieve its annual growth target of around 5%. He also expects China’s economy to grow faster in the second quarter than in the first. His comments come after S&P Global lowered its outlook on China’s economic growth on Monday. 

The Shanghai Composite gained 1.23% and the Shenzhen Component rose 0.97%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 1.88%, but Japan’s Nikkei 225 lost 0.49%.

China’s latest Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which is an indicator of the health of manufacturing and service sectors, is due for release later this week. China’s GDP grew by 4.5% in the first quarter of this year, official data showed.

“Domestic demand [in China] is moderating. Demand for consumables, as well as real estate, is shrinking amid subdued confidence,” according to a Monday report by Singapore’s DBS bank.

“Income growth has yet to catch up with the pre-Covid time. Weakening investment growth also points to softening demand,” the report added. 

European equities were mixed on Tuesday, after European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said inflation remained too high. The European Central Bank has been increasing interest rates since last year, amounting to 400 basis points of raises so far, with market expectations of two more rate hikes later this year. 

The benchmark STOXX 600 dropped 0.13% and Germany’s DAX 40 rose 0.02% during Tuesday afternoon trading hours in Europe.

According to a Reuters poll of economists, the Bank of England (BoE) will raise borrowing costs further to tackle persistent inflation. Last week the central bank, in a surprise move, increased interest rates by half a percentage point to 5%, the highest since 2008.

“The U.K. is poised for a modest economic upturn due to lower energy prices, government support measures, and a robust labor market. However, trade prospects may remain lackluster due to the sluggish economies of major trading partners,” data and analytics company GlobalData said in its “Macroeconomic Outlook Report: UK” on Monday. 

“Businesses also face a high cost of financing which remains another area of concern. Although the inflation rate is projected to ease, it is expected to stay at an elevated level of 7% in 2023, down from 9.1% in 2022 but much higher than the Bank of England’s target of 2%,” GlobalData said.

U.S. stock futures strengthened as of 7 p.m. in Hong Kong, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 0.06%, and the S&P 500 futures gained 0.23%. The Nasdaq 100 Futures climbed 0.48%. 

In the U.S., indicators for this week on the state of the economy include home sales, consumer confidence reports and jobless claims. 

Investors continue to assess the interest rate situation in the world’s largest economy, following Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s comments last week that indicated more rate hikes later this year. Current interest rates in the U.S. are between 5% and 5.25%, the highest since 2006. 

“Given the risk of a U.S. economic recession in the second half of 2023, investing in bonds may across various Asian markets could enable a diversification of risks, as well as help attract capital into the Asian bond markets,” Swa Wu, a Hong Kong-based investment director of fixed income at Schroders, said in an emailed statement on Tuesday. 

“The end of the U.S. rate hike cycle means the continued strengthening of the U.S. dollar may come to a pause. This would present an opportunity for other currencies to strengthen and enhance the appeal of non-US dollar-denominated Asian bonds, and further attract capital to the asset class,” she added. 

(Updates with equities section)