Bitcoin rebounded above the US$30,000 mark and Ether gained ground on Wednesday morning in Asia after Gary Gensler, the chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, was criticized in a congressional hearing for a raft of regulations he plans to introduce, including his approach to cryptocurrencies. All top 10 non-stablecoin tokens gained as Gensler faced pushback over the fines and lawsuits he has filed against crypto platforms. Polkadot led the winners. U.S. equity futures traded lower in Asia after Wall Street closed flat on Tuesday. 

See related article: SEC’s Gary Gensler dodges question on whether Ethereum is a security

Fast facts

  • Bitcoin rose 3.30% to US$30,248 in the 24 hours to 09:00 a.m. in Hong Kong, according to CoinMarketCap data. Despite a dip below the US$30,000 mark this week after the SEC sued the Bittrex exchange, the world’s biggest cryptocurrency with a market capitalization of US$584 billion, has gained more than 80% so far this year. 
  • Ether moved up 1.21% to US$2,100, gaining 11.15% in the past seven days. The world’s second largest cryptocurrency has been fluctuating around the US$2,100 mark in the past five days. Data from on-chain analysis company CryptoQuant showed a slump in Ethereum-related purchases on crypto exchanges after the blockchain’s Shanghai upgrade on April 13.
  • Polkadot led the winners, gaining 3.38% to US$6.89 and adding 7.11% for the week.
  • In the Congressional hearing on Tuesday, the SEC’s Gensler said in prepared testimony that “the vast majority of crypto tokens are securities” but dodged the question of whether Ether is a security or commodity when asked by Patrick McHenry, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.
  • Ahead of the hearing, all Republicans on the committee, led by McHenry, criticized Gensler in a letter on the SEC’s approach to digital assets, which said “the SEC has forced digital asset market participants into regulatory frameworks that are neither compatible with the underlying technology nor applicable because the firms’ activities do not involve an offering of securities,” and “the only entity to blame for the lack of registrants is the SEC itself.”
  • XRP rose 3.17% to US$0.5285 for a weekly gain of 2.80%. Ripple Labs, whose crypto payment platform is powered by XRP, is another crypto-related platform in dispute with regulators. The SEC filed a lawsuit in December 2020 alleging Ripple sold US$1.38 billion in XRP as an unregistered security. The case is still before a U.S. court and a ruling is expected later this year.
  • The total crypto market capitalization rose 2.29% in the past 24 hours to US$1.28 trillion. The total trading volume over the last 24 hours moved up 5.53% to US$46.85 billion.
  • In the NFT market, the Forkast 500 NFT index edged up 0.32% to 4,061.33 in the 24 hours to 09:00 a.m. in Hong Kong, a gain of 2.04% for the week. The index is a proxy measure of the performance of the global NFT market and includes 500 eligible smart contracts on any given day. It is managed by CryptoSlam, a sister company of Forkast.News under the Forkast.Labs umbrella.
  • The average sales price of NFTs in U.S. dollars has increased in April, rising from around US$110 on April 1 to over US$131 on Wednesday, a move that can be attributed to a general rally in cryptocurrencies, said Yehudah Petscher, an NFT Strategist at Forkast Labs.
  • U.S. stock futures traded lower to little changed as of 9:00 a.m. in Hong Kong. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 0.11%. The S&P 500 futures inched 0.07% lower. The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 0.09%.
  • The three U.S. equity indexes closed mixed on Tuesday. First quarter earnings at U.S. companies are generally better than expected, but Atlanta Federal Reserve President Raphael Bostic and St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said in separate interviews they envisioned interest rate hikes to continue in 2023.
  • U.S. interest rates are currently between 4.75% to 5%, the highest since June 2006. Analysts at the CME Group now see a 15.2% chance the Fed will leave interest rates unchanged at its next meeting on May 3, while 84.8% predict a 25-basis-point increase, up from 84.4% on Tuesday. 

See related article: U.S. House Financial Services Committee releases draft stablecoin bill for Wednesday hearing