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Here’s why Bitcoin price is struggling to reclaim $38,000

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After bouncing from the recent short-term low, Bitcoin (BTC) price posted a 15% gain over three days as it climbed from $32,400 to $37,200.

This was an impressive move given that BTC price had been trading in a sideways range for weeks and regardless of the reasons behind the surge, one would expect large traders and arbitrage desks to follow the trend.

Interestingly, this is not the case as many of the top traders opened short positions as BTC commenced its 15% move. Even if a trader lacks confidence in a potential retest of the $42,000 all-time high, opening shorts while Ether (ETH) blasts through $1,600 seems risky.

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Bitcoin and Ether USD prices at Bitstamp. Source: Digital Assets Data

Take notice of how both leading cryptocurrencies tend to trade in tandem most of the time even though investors could be rotating from BTC to Ether due to its role in decentralized finance, explosive price appreciation, and the allure of Eth2 staking.

Data from TheTie, an alternative social analytics firm, also found that Google searches for “buy crypto” had recently hit an all-time high. According to the same source, there’s been a 135% surge in cryptocurrency social media activity over the past three months.

Adding to this bullish scenario, global payments giant, Visa announced that it is aggressively pursuing cryptocurrency partnerships, including debit cards and digital banks.

Lastly, a recent 15,200 BTC ($515 million) outflow at Coinbase was deemed a ‘bullish signal’ by analysts at CryptoQuant. According to CryptoQuant, the outflow indicates an “OTC deal from institutional investors” who are possibly accumulating BTC into cold wallets.

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These bullish signals contrast with the exchange-provided traders’ long-to-short net positioning. This indicator is calculated by analyzing the client’s consolidated position on the spot, perpetual and futures contracts and it provides a clearer view of whether professional traders are leaning bullish or bearish.

With this in mind, there are occasional discrepancies in the methodologies between different exchanges, so viewers should monitor changes instead of absolute figures.

Exchange’s top traders BTC long-to-short ratio. Source: Bybt.com

Over the past three days, top traders at every exchange analyzed have increased their shorts. Even though large traders, market makers, and arbitrage desks may hold positions in their cold wallets or Grayscale GBTC funds, the long-to-short ratio shows that there is a lack of confidence on whether BTC will push through $38,000 and pursue the $40,000 level in the short term.

Moreover, the recent outperformance by Ether could have been fueled by top traders reducing BTC exposure. This makes even more sense considering the upcoming CME ETH listing is on Feb. 8. It’s only natural that there would be a surge in appetite among institutional investors.

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Top traders could have also moved their BTC off exchange in search of better yield opportunities, so assuming that they’ve all entered short positions is a hasty conclusion.

If these top traders did enter BTC short positions, there would be signs on derivatives markets. To disprove this theory, Friday’s $1 billion options expiry still favors bulls, who at the moment have many incentives to push the price above $40,000.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.

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Bitcoin Futures Heating Up, Why BTC Traders Should Expect Volatility

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Bitcoin has been moving sideways during the day as it was rejected north of $63,000. As of press time, BTC’s price trades at $62,698 with a 1% profit in the weekly chart.

Bitcoin BTC BTCUSD
BTC moving sideways in the daily chart. Source: BTCUSD Tradingview

However, Bitcoin could see some action in the short term. The benchmark crypto has been rallying on the back of an increase in institutional demand and the launch of the first BTC-linked ETFs in the U.S.

As a consequence, Bitcoin went from the lows at $40,000 to a new all-time high in less than a week. This caused a FOMO effect most notoriously visible in the derivatives sector.

As CryptoQuant showed, the amount of leverage positions in this sector has been on the rise since the end of September. Moving to a year high with BTC’s price, the leverage ratio points to an excess which could be reflected on the price action.

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Bitcoin BTC BTCUSD
Source: CryptoQuant via Twitter

The CEO of CryptoQuant Ki Young Ju believes this excess in leverage is caused by new players, as it is has happened historically when Bitcoin enters price discovery. Usually, the market reacts with a sudden move to the opposite direction of the majority of the overleverage position.

Whales and other major players try to shake out these new traders and take advantage of the liquidity in the market to make their own moves. In response to the possibility of the current high leverage in Bitcoin futures been driven by Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) futures Open Interest, Young Ju clarified:

This data doesn’t take into account CME futures. I think CME users are new players joining this industry, which indicates the market is over-leveraged by *existing* investors who are using crypto exchanges. Folks who use CME might not have over-leveraged positions.

New BTC ETFs, Same Bitcoin Price Action

The recently launched Bitcoin ETF are backed by CME futures. Therefore, some expects believe the platform could gain more relevance in the future and have a bigger impact in BTC’s price.

In case of volatility, Bitcoin could find critical support at $60,000, as $840 million in futures contracts were purchased when BTC’s price was hitting this mark, Young Ju said.

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Bitcoin BTC BTCUSD
Source: CryptoQuant via Twitter

As noted by research firm Glassnode, the OI for the CME futures has increased by over 265% in just a month. This points towards a moment of euphoria which has favored the bears over the past months

However, the general sentiment around Bitcoin remains positive as Glassnode reported. This demonstrated by the amount of long-term investors that have stopped taking profits during BTC’s most recent price rally.

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Bitcoin Funding Rates Touch Same Level As Early September, More Correction To Come?

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Data shows Bitcoin funding rates right now are at the same level as they were in early September. This means the coin may see another flush out similar to how it happened back then.

Bitcoin Funding Rates Float Around Similar Levels To Early September

As per this week’s on-chain report from Glassnode, the BTC futures perpetual funding rate of all exchanges is currently at the level similar to what it was back in early September before the crash.

The “funding rates” is an indicator that shows the premium that traders have to pay each other while holding on to their positions in the perpetual swap futures markets.

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When the metric has negative values, it means that short traders are paying longs, and that many traders are bearish on Bitcoin right now.

Opposite to that, positive funding rates imply that the overall market sentiment is leaning towards bullish and longs are currently paying shorts to keep their positions.

Now, here is a chart that highlights the trend in the value of the indicator over the last six months:

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Bitcoin Futures Funding Rates
Looks like the metric is currently showing highly positive values | Source: Glassnode's The Week On-Chain, Week 43

As the above graph shows, when Bitcoin made its new all-time high (ATH) some days ago, the indicator reached positive local highs.

This means traders started opening many leveraged long positions so that they don’t miss out on the wave of BTC making new ATHs.

However, the price had a correction, which has often been the case during periods of high leverage, and a lot of the excess leverage was flushed out.

Nonetheless, the funding rates are still at similarly high levels right now as in early September. What followed then was the El Salvador crash that took the rates to negative values.

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It’s possible another correction can take place now in order to flush out more of the currently high leverage in the market. Though it’s not a certainty that it will be how it plays out.

BTC Price

At the time of writing, Bitcoin’s price floats around $62.5k, down 0.4% in the last seven days. Over the past month, the crypto has gained 44% in value.

The below chart shows the trend in the price of the crypto over the last five days.

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Bitcoin Price Chart
BTC's price seems to be recovering somewhat from the dip | Source: BTCUSD on TradingView

Over the last few days, Bitcoin has shown some effort to bounce back from the correction, but in the last couple of days, the crypto has only moved rather sideways. If the futures funding rates are anything to go by, the market may be heading towards another correction soon that will wipe out the excess leverage.

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South Korean pension fund to invest in Bitcoin ETF: Report

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South Korea’s public pension fund, the Korean Teachers’ Credit Union (KTCU), is reportedly looking to gain exposure to Bitcoin (BTC) via a crypto exchange-traded fund (ETF).

KTCU, one of the largest institutional investors in South Korea, is considering investing in a pure Bitcoin ETF or Bitcoin-linked ETFs in the first half of 2022, local news agency The Korea Economic Daily reported Monday.

According to the report, KTCU is considering investing in several Bitcoin ETF products, including those by South Korean asset management firm Mirae Asset Global Investments. The company launched two ETFs tracking the value of Bitcoin futures via its Canadian subsidiary, Horizons ETFs, in April 2021.

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“As there are some well-made cryptocurrency-linked ETF products by asset managers such as Korea’s Mirae Asset Global Investments, we plan to invest in the ETF products after consultation with domestic asset managers,” an executive at KTCU reportedly said.

The official also mentioned potential investment in a Bitcoin ETF by Mirae Asset’s subsidiary, Global X ETFs, which filed for a Bitcoin ETF with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission in July.

According to the report, KTCU is the second-largest institutional investor in South Korea, with $40.2 billion in assets under management. The pension fund has allocated 40% of its investments in alternative assets, 10% domestic and 9% international stocks. KTCU has yet to determine the size and other details of its potential Bitcoin ETF investment.

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The news comes amid global pension funds getting increasingly interested in gaining exposure to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and major companies in the industry. Last week, the Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund reportedly purchased $25 million in Bitcoin and Ether (ETH). Canada’s Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board participated in a $420-million funding round for major crypto exchange FTX, the firm announced on Thursday.

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