Bitcoin prices remain above US$30,500 although its trading volume dropped in the last 24 hours. Ether and all other top 10 non-stablecoin cryptocurrencies traded mixed ahead of key inflation data announcement in the U.S. later on Wednesday. European bourses and U.S. stock futures gained while Asian equities traded mixed.

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Top 10 cryptos trade mixed

Bitcoin gained 0.62% to US$30,741 in 24 hours to 4.05 p.m. in Hong Kong, but lost 0.06% on the week, according to CoinMarketCap data. In the same period, the market capitalization of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency also inched up 0.57% to US$597 billion, while its trading volume declined 21.12% to US$11.87 billion. The token touched a high of US$$30,831 in the past 24 hours.

“BTC [Bitcoin] is seen to be consolidating between US$29,800 – US$31,200 in the last three weeks. A breakout either way is very likely in the coming days as July awaits several macro events, [including] the U.S. Consumer Price Index and the U.S. Producer Price Index this week followed by the Fed’s interest rate decision in the last week of July,” Minal Thukral, executive vice-president of growth and strategy at CoinDCX, India’s first crypto unicorn, told Forkast in an emailed response on Wednesday.

“We can expect volatility coming in the second half of July with the upcoming events and BTC mostly staying range bound since last week,” Thukral added. 

Standard Chartered Bank on Monday projected Bitcoin prices would reach US$50,000 by the end of 2023 and US$120,000 in 2024.

“Historically, Bitcoin halving has proven to be the biggest driver for the start of a bull run as this happens every four years where the supply for Bitcoin reduces by 50%, increasing demand which leads to price rise,” Thukral said. 

The next halving is scheduled for April next year, with the pre-halving buildup already reflecting the Bitcoin price increase. 

Bitcoin prices also received a boost after several traditional finance (TradFi) companies, including BlackRock, WisdomTree, Invesco and Bitwise, filed Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) applications in the U.S. last month.

“Although the approval is still pending with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, if approved this will make it easier for mass adoption for users,” Thukral said.

“Over-the-counter (OTC) trading reached a one-year high in June, surging by 60% in the past quarter alone. These OTC trading deals are now more popular with institutional investors, indicating BTC is becoming a preferred investment option,” he added.

Digital asset and fintech investment firm Fineqia said on Wednesday that its analysis of global exchange traded products (ETPs) with digital assets as underlying collateral, has expanded by 76% in assets under management (AUM) year-to-date amid renewed interest by investors.

“It’s an upward trend so far this year, and that’s attracting capital,” Fineqia chief executive Bundeep Singh Rangar said in an emailed statement. “Recent ETF filings in the U.S. signals a revival of interest among financial institutions.”

Ether, the world’s second largest cryptocurrency, gained 0.35% to US$1,889 in the past 24 hours, but dropped 2.38% on the week.

All other top 10 non-stablecoin cryptocurrencies traded mixed, with BNB – the native token of world’s biggest crypto exchange Binance – gaining the most. BNB rose 1% to US$249 in the past 24 hours and gained 2.64% on the week. 

KTX.Finance, a decentralized perpetuals exchange on BNB Chain, said on Tuesday it has raised US$4 million seed round financing led by Hashed. Other participants in the round include AlphaLab Capital, CRIT Ventures, KuCoin Ventures, among others. KTX.Finance – incubated by ByteTrade Lab – went live last month on BNB Chain and said it has achieved US$40 million in trading volume from more than 600 traders. 

The total crypto market capitalization rose 0.66% to US$1.2 trillion while market volume decreased 19.9% to US$26.45 billion in the past 24 hours.

New Ethereum-based collections gain

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 main Forkast 500 NFT index dropped 1.04% to 2,704.29 in 24 hours to 6.25 p.m. in Hong Kong, bringing its weekly losses to 2.6%. 

In the same period, the Forkast ETH NFT Composite slipped 0.1% to 929.15, after losing 1.51% on the week.

Total sales volume on Ethereum declined 5.41% to US$14.98 million while those on the Bitcoin network fell 41.61% to US$3.12 million in the past 24 hours, according to CryptoSlam data

By collection, the Bitcoin-based $FRAM BRC-20 NFTs topped the list but fell 12.57% to US$1.84 million. Parallel Avatars, an Ethereum-based NFT collection for Web3 sci-fi game Parallel, launched on July 11, ranked second with its sales volume rising 94.77% to US$1.59 million. 

Station3 Patron, another newly-launched Ethereum NFT collection, ranked fifth with its 24-hour sales volume rising 71.32% to US$902,779. 

“Among the current use cases of NFT, while collectibles is still finding its feet, there are other use cases that show more sticky traction. Sorare NFTs are used as part of game play (fantasy sports) and have shown considerable sticky volumes and traction,” said Thukral of CoinDCX.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is cracking down on NFT scams. Moroccan national Soufiane Oulahyane has been indicted by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York for allegedly creating a lookalike of NFT marketplace OpenSea to obtain unauthorized access to cryptocurrency and NFTs. In September 2021, Oulahyane stole approximately US$450,000 worth of cryptocurrency and NFTs from a victim in Manhattan, according to a Monday statement by the U.S. Department of Justice.

U.S. stock futures, European bourses gain; Asian equities mixed

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Image: Envato Elements

Asian equity markets were mixed on Wednesday, ahead of the highly-anticipated U.S. consumer price index report due later on Wednesday that is expected to offer some relief on the need for further rate hikes. 

The Shanghai Composite, Shenzhen Component and Japan’s Nikkei 225 dropped on Wednesday while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained.

U.S. stock futures strengthened as of 8 p.m. in Hong Kong, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures, the S&P 500 futures, and the Nasdaq 100 Futures all in the green.

Annual inflation in the U.S. is expected to slow to 3.1% in June, the lowest since March 2021. The June inflation, along with the producer price data due on Thursday, will give insight into what could be the Federal Reserve’s next move on interest rates.

Several Fed officials said on Monday that more interest rate hikes may be needed to bring the annual inflation rate below 2%. However, there were also those who noted that an end to the Fed’s monetary tightening cycle is in sight. 

The central bank will meet on July 26 to discuss its next move on rates, which are currently between 5% and 5.25%.

U.S. financial giants including JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and BlackRock will also release their second-quarter earnings later this week to kick off the reporting season.

European bourses gained on Wednesday ahead of the latest U.S. inflation data announcement. The benchmark STOXX 600 and Germany’s DAX 40 rose during Wednesday afternoon trading hours in Europe. 

(updates with equity section.)