Bitcoin Traders Set Sights on $30,000 Even as Momentum Wanes

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Crypto investors are scooping up call options betting on a Bitcoin rebound to $30,000, even as momentum in the digital-asset market stalls.

Bitcoin options open interest rose in February to $9 billion, according to Bloomberg Intelligence’s Jamie Coutts, who cited Glassnode data. The last time it was at this level, the coin had been trading around $45,000, whereas it’s currently hovering around $23,700. It’s the largest 14-day rate of change in its history, and is a record high when measured as a percentage of market cap, he said.

“Too much leverage has been funneled into this asset in the short-term,” Coutts tweeted. Bitcoin advanced 2.5% as of 10:15 a.m. in London on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, most of the open interest is made up of calls with a $30,000 strike price, meaning that investors are betting Bitcoin could hit that level. “This does imply a lot of leverage in the market — but it’s weird, implied volatility is much lower than the last time OI was at this level, which suggests weaker trader interest,” said Noelle Acheson, author of the “Crypto Is Macro Now” newsletter.

Though Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies had a banner start to the year, with the largest digital asset soaring 39% in January, the gains haven’t been as easily gotten over the past few weeks. The coin, along with other riskier assets like stocks, has declined since mid-February as investors start to bet that the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates at a higher level for a longer timespan.

To be sure, high options open interest might not necessarily mean there’s more leverage in the market. “Options could be directionally agnostic,” said Darius Sit, founder and chief investment officer of crypto options trading firm QCP Capital.

It was amid the rally this year, which saw Bitcoin test $24,000 as well as $25,000, that the market saw a flood of out-of-the-money upside calls, said Christopher Newhouse, a crypto derivatives trader at GSR, a crypto-native market maker in spot and options markets. That’s because traders were hoping for a definitive break above $25,000. Bitcoin had crossed that level on Feb. 16, though it’s declined since then, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

“These OTM bets throughout February failed to pay out (as of now) since traders purchased those OTM options at elevated levels of implied volatility, (which has been steadily declining while price has stayed range-bound), causing the buyers of those strikes to lose from both a long-volatility perspective as well as a long-spot price perspective,” he said.

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