Bitcoin's price finally recaptured the $50,000 level, but data shows that pro traders are somewhat skeptical for a variety of reasons.
The price of Bitcoin (BTC) is back at the $50,000 level, and there's little doubt that the 47% positive rally over the past 30 days has been fueled by whale accumulation, institutional adoption and positive remarks from regulators regarding a possible exchange-traded fund (EFT) approval.
Despite the positive newsflow, the top traders at crypto exchanges and derivatives data appear unmoved by the recent rally to the $50,000 resistance.
Crypto analyst Will Clemente highlighted the accumulation from addresses containing 1,000 to 10,000 BTC.
Price down today while whale holdings went up by ~13,000 BTC. Funny how that works. pic.twitter.com/a6tb2DiqxH
— Will Clemente (@WClementeIII) August 18, 2021
In other news, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo have partnered with New York Digital Investment Group, a technology and financial services firm, to offer Bitcoin funds for their wealth management clients.
The positive expectations mounted after United States Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler suggested an openness to approving ETF products exposed to regulated Bitcoin futures contracts under the Investment Company Act of 1940.
A final tidbit of positive news came with Bitcoin's hash rate increasing 5% over the past week to reach 125 exahashes per second. Albeit 30% below mid-May's peak before China's ban took place, it has proved the network's operational resilience.
The futures premium has remained stable
One of the best measures of professional traders' optimism is the futures market's premium. It measures the gap between quarterly contracts and the current spot price levels. A 6% to 14% annualized premium is expected in healthy markets, which is in line with the lending rate of stablecoins.
However, a backwardation scenario occurs during bearish markets because the indicator fades or i turns negative.
OKEx September BTC futures contracts premium. Source: TradingView
Over the past three weeks, the September contract has held a 0.7% premium, which is equivalent to a 7% annualized rate. Although far from the negative range, this shows a lack of confidence, a Bitcoin price rallied 27% over the same period.
Options markets confirm the muted sentiment
To exclude externalities specific to the futures instrument, one should also analyze the options markets. Whenever market makers and professional traders lean bullish, they will demand a higher premium on call options. This trend causes a -25% delta skew.
A skew indicator oscillating between -7% and +7% is usually deemed neutral. On the other hand, the metric shifts above this range whenever the downside protection is more costly.
Deribit Bitcoin options 25% delta skew. Source: Laevitas
The 25% delta skew has failed to display significantly higher costs for upside protection, which would have caused the index to move below the -7% threshold.
Both futures instruments predominantly used by whales and arbitrage desks do not reflect the same wild optimism that Crypto Twitter and retail traders displayed when Bitcoin's price breached the "all-important" $50,000 mark.
Consequently, there is strong evidence showing that top traders are not confident in buying at the current levels.
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