Bitcoin and Ether fell on Wednesday morning in Asia, along with other top 10 non-stablecoin cryptocurrencies by market capitalization. Polygon’s MATIC led the losers, while Cardano’s ADA also dipped on news Binance will axe perpetual contracts for the two tokens. Elsewhere, the Forkast 500 NFT index moved down, although changes in trading habits have market analysts predicting good times ahead. In the U.S., stock futures steadied after a rocky Tuesday. Stronger than expected sales data left investors fearing the Fed’s rate hiking cycle may continue. Ratings agency Fitch dampened investor sentiment further by suggesting it could downgrade a number of major U.S. banks.

Crypto down

Bitcoin fell 0.85% in the last 24 hours to US$29,169.14 as of 07:00 a.m. in Hong Kong, and logged a weekly gain of 1.99%, according to CoinMarketCap data. The world’s leading cryptocurrency has traded below US$30,000 since last Wednesday. 

Cryptos took a hit Tuesday as the three major U.S. exchanges posted losses. 

“It’s a tough day for many as both crypto and traditional finance are seeing red. We have seen this before, where cryptocurrency markets mirror what we see with the Nasdaq, down 1.14%,” said Caroline Bowler, chief executive officer of Australian exchange BTC Markets. 

“These data points are not helped by the lack of liquidity, as we sit in the doldrums so far in August,” she added. 

Bowler noted that Bitcoin has, however, been range bound for the last two months, sustaining one-year highs. 

“There is a lot more to come for this asset class,” said Bowler.

Meanwhile, Alex Kuptsikevich, senior market analyst at London-based online brokerage FxPro, was more bearish in his outlook. 

“Despite the intraday fluctuations, the daily candles close near their opening levels, indicating a lack of direction and conviction,” he Kuptsikevich. 

“This usually precedes a sharp move and for now, we see more downside risk, with a potential drop to $28K in the near term,” Kuptsikevich added.

Elsewhere, Ether lost 0.95% to US$1,826.79, falling 1.63% in the past seven days. Similarly, all other top 10 non-stablecoin cryptocurrencies were in decline with the losses led by Polygon’s MATIC. The token lost 6.72% to US$0.6338 on Wednesday morning, dropping 7.43% for the week.

Solana’ SOL dipped 5.08% to US$23.84 for a weekly loss of 1.08%. Cardano’s ADA token also dropped 3.13% to US$0.2817, logging a 5.95% weekly decline.

The ADA and MATIC losses came after Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trade volume, announced it will delist perpetual contracts for the two cryptos from Thursday. 

In June, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) labeled both MATIC and ADA as financial securities in its lawsuits against Binance.US and Coinbase. Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao and Binance itself were charged with manipulating trading volumes on the platform and diverting customer funds.

On Monday, Binance filed a protective court order against the SEC seeking to limit the agency’s “overbroad” requests for information.

The total crypto market capitalization moved down 1.32% in the past 24 hours to US$1.16 trillion, while trading volume rose 3.48% to US$29.71 billion.

NFT sales price driving change

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 main Forkast 500 NFT index edged down 0.05% in the past 24 hours to 2483.42 as of 08:30 a.m. in Hong Kong. However, the index still shows a 0.22% gain for the week. Forkast’s Ethereum, Polygon and Cardano NFT indexes logged gains, while the index for Solana dropped.

Total NFT trading volume rose 14.24% in the past 24 hours to over US$17.72 million, according to data from CryptoSlam. Volumes on the Ethereum, Polygon, Solana and Mythos blockchains all logged gains, while volume on ImmutableX and Bitcoin blockchain dipped.

“Something is changing in the NFT market. Traders are very active. While it’s not evident based on total sales, look at the increase in daily global transactions which is at an 18 month high,” said Yehudah Petscher, NFT Strategist at Forkast Labs. 

The number of global NFT transactions in the last 24 hours grew 2.74% to 590,215. That number is a 173.5% increase on the 215,768 transactions posted on Jan. 1.

“Average sales price is the key driver of this change, with the average NFT selling price of $26.81 yesterday reflecting a three year low last seen on Sep. 5, 2020 with a $15.44 average sale price,” Petscher explained. 

Among NFT collections, Ethereum-based DeGods topped the 24-hour sales volume ranking. The collection rose 28.70% to over US$2.17 million with the launch of its “Season 3” digital art collection on Sunday. 

“DMarket alone had over US$71,000 sales, many of which at under $1, and you’ll see similar sales in Gods Unchained. DraftKings and Sorare aren’t far off with sales of just a few dollars coming in by the second,” said Petscher. 

DMarket, a collection linked to Mythos network-based blockchain games, came in second in terms of sales volume. It rose 7.39% to US$959,782. Polygon-based DraftKings NFTs, from the fantasy sports platform of the same name, surged 52.86% to US$785,459.

Gods Unchained, from another blockchain-based card trading game, dipped 9.84% to US$616,225 but remained in CryptoSlam’s top five collections ranking.

Bad news for US banks and Fed watchers, while China’s economic woes deepen

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Image: Envato Elements

U.S. stock futures traded steady to higher as of 10:50 a.m. in Hong Kong. That followed a rocky Tuesday, with the Dow Jones, S&P and Nasdaq all dipping more than 1.00% during regular trading hours.

The main stock indexes in Asia — China’s Shanghai Composite, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng, Japan’s Nikkei 225 and South Korea’s Kospi — all posted losses on Tuesday morning. The Hang Seng Index led the losses with a 1.34% decline.

The U.S. posted upbeat retail sales data on Tuesday. The 0.7% increase was higher than the estimated 0.4%, with U.S. consumers continuing to spend despite the recent cycle of interest rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve. Upward sales data, a strong jobs market and rising wages could see the Fed strengthen its resolve to maintain interest rates at the current or higher levels.

“This simply means the Fed will have to be more aggressive raising rates higher and keeping rates higher for longer,” said Lindsey Piegza, chief economist at U.S.-based wealth management group Stifel Financial Corp., in an interview with Bloomberg

Still, analysts at the CME FedWatch Tool gave a 90.5% chance that the Federal Reserve will not raise interest rates in September, up from 88.5% on Tuesday. The Fed meets on Sep. 19 to make its next move on interest rates, which are now between 5.25% to 5.50%, the highest level since January 2001.

Ratings agency Fitch shook U.S. equities markets further when it warned of a downgrade for dozens of major U.S. banks including JPMorgan and Bank of America. That followed a similar warning for mid-size banks from ratings agency Moody’s last week. Fitch also downgraded the United States’ long term credit rating from AAA to AA+ in early August citing long-term macroeconomic concerns.

China market losses reflected the bearish sentiment in the U.S. as it entered a fourth consecutive session of decline. The country’s economic activity data for July — retail sales, industrial output and investment — all came in lower than expected, worsening concerns about China’s economic health.

“Most reports point to an economy that, far from roaring back from Covid Zero, is struggling to make much headway,” wrote Daniel Moss, Asian economies columnist at Bloomberg. 

“It’s also unclear whether, with the property industry in dire straits and the economy suffering from a broad lack of demand, steep cuts in rates might transpire into a dramatic improvement,” Moss wrote. 

China’s monetary authority unexpectedly cut loan rates by 15 basis points on Tuesday.

U.S. investors now await Wednesday’s earnings report from giant retailer Target. Other U.S. retail leaders, Walmart and Home Depot, are set to release their quarterly results this week. 

(Updates with equities section.)