By Sidhartha Shukla and Akshay Chinchalkar
Bitcoin is on course for one of its biggest weekly gains of recent years, bolstered by wagers on eventual cuts in interest rates as the token rides out convulsions in the banking sector.
The largest digital asset is up 21% since the start of Monday. It’s had a weekly jump of at least that much only 10 times in the past five years, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Smaller coins like Ether and Dogecoin are also rallying.
The collapse of three regional US lenders and wobbles at Credit Suisse Group AG are strengthening expectations of an end to the monetary tightening that pummeled crypto in 2022. The ructions are also reviving claims from Bitcoin’s most ardent supporters that the token is an alternative to fiat currency.
“The current turbulence within the US banking sector, potentially leading to a more relaxed Federal Reserve stance, reinforces Bitcoin’s dual role as a hedge against traditional finance and a credible risk asset,” said Kunal Goel, a research analyst at digital-asset intelligence firm Messari.
Bitcoin rose as much as 6.1% on Friday and was trading at about $26,150 as of 8 a.m. in London. Second-ranked Ether added roughly 4%. Stocks advanced too as attempts to stem the chaos in the banking sector mollified investors somewhat.
Financial markets anticipate a peak in the Fed’s benchmark interest in May to fight elevated inflation, followed by around 70 basis points of cuts this year to support economic growth.
“Any sign of interest-rate cuts should push funds to riskier assets, which is likely to be enough to bring more institutional funds into the crypto market, regardless of whether macro traders understand or believe in the longer-term Bitcoin investment thesis,” wrote Noelle Acheson, author of the “Crypto Is Macro Now” newsletter.
The digital-asset sector is also contending with a bruising regulatory clampdown in the US in the wake of the collapse of the FTX crypto exchange. The ramifications of a temporary de-pegging in USD Coin — or USDC — over the weekend are also filtering through crypto markets. USDC is the second-largest stablecoin, a type of token that’s supposed to hold a constant $1 value.
The Securities & Exchange Commission is doubling down on the contention that most digital assets are securities, a designation that requires greater investor protection and may make tokens harder to trade. However, US regulators generally agree that Bitcoin isn’t a security.
That regulatory dichotomy is helping Bitcoin, while nervousness about stablecoins has led some investors to shift into the largest digital asset, according to Markus Thielen, head of research at Matrixport.
Bitcoin now accounts for 43% of overall crypto market value, the highest proportion since June 2022, data from CoinGecko shows.
The token has climbed about 57% so far this year and is in touching distance of the highest level since June 2022. But it remains a long way off its record of almost $69,000 from November 2021.
More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com.