The crypto market had its biggest rally of the year over the weekend, gaining 17% as the total market cap topped the US$2 trillion mark for the first time in over two weeks this morning Asia time, according to CoinGecko.
Market leaders Bitcoin and Ethereum each rallied roughly 15% to break above the respective psychological price barriers coming into Asia business hours Monday morning and continued to gain throughout the day. They were trading at US$42,789 and US$3,092 respectively, according to CoinGecko.
While the rally was a welcome relief to many traders who have watched the market fall by roughly 40% since its high in November, one industry watcher offered a more cautious outlook.
“Today is the first day that Asia comes back from the Lunar New Year holiday, so whether or not this mini-surge can be sustained can very much be deduced from how the market performs today,” said Igneus Terrenus, head of communications at crypto exchange Bybit, in an interview with Forkast.
Most of the price movement came from light spot trading in Asia, Terrenus said, adding he will wait for derivatives volumes to consistently increase until he becomes more optimistic about the outcome.
“Two green candle daily closes a mini-bull run do not make,” he added.
Other macroeconomic factors might also be at play, however. While Meta (formerly Facebook) posted its biggest single-day dropoff in share price — 26% — after reporting its first ever decline in quarterly user numbers last week, competitor Amazon posted the biggest gain — surging 13.5% on Friday.
“That showed some people that in spite of rising interest rates, some of these tech companies are able to adapt,” said Andrew Sullivan, founder and writer for Asianmarketsense.com, in an interview with Forkast, adding that investors have been waiting for a positive sign before moving back into the market. “As the mist clears and people take a longer-term attitude to [crypto], then you’ve seen them returning and taking advantage of buying the dip at the end of the day.”
Rising interest rates have been concerning investors since the U.S. Federal Reserve announced plans to raise them faster and sooner than originally anticipated earlier this year. As the Fed is set to announce further guidance on interest rates in March, there is speculation that the increase could be as high as half a percentage point.
“That will be something that’s playing on people’s minds,” Sullivan said, “because as interest rates go up, there are alternative returns that can be gained in other areas, and people then have to do a broad rebalance of their whole portfolio.”
Higher interest rates coupled with tighter monetary policy are typically correlated with lower stock prices.
Leading memecoins Dogecoin and Shiba Inu token also joined in the weekend rally, but both saw significant gains during Asia business hours Monday. DOGE jumped another 7% to reach US$0.15 at press time, while SHIB gained 30% Monday to reach a three-week high of US$0.00002913, according to CoinGecko.
Play-to-earn (P2E) gaming tokens also performed well in the rally. AXS, the native token for leading P2E game Axie Infinity, gained over 50% in price from Friday evening, to trade at a three-week high of US$72.69 during business hours. ILV, the native token for P2E game Illuvium, rallied almost 20% during this time to trade at US$679.89.
The native token of sporting fintech platform Chiliz, CHZ, also saw significant gains Monday, jumping over 30% to reach a three-week high of US$0.23. Chiliz operates the blockchain-based sports entertainment platform Socios, which offers leading sporting fan tokens such as FC Barcelona and Manchester City FC.
Bybit’s Terrenus called the success of memecoins and other tokens like them a “self-fulfilling prophecy” that are able to drive more dramatic price action — in either direction — due to the excitement they are able to generate.
“The most scarce resource in this crypto world is actually people’s attention,” Terrenus said. “[These tokens] occupy so much of people’s time [they] naturally suck much of the oxygen out of the discourse.”