What could drive BTC price with halving complete, ETF demand stalled

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While inflows into spot bitcoin ETFs and anticipation around the Bitcoin halving helped fuel BTC’s price rally in the first quarter, the asset may now need a new upward driver.

Investor demand for the US bitcoin funds have stalled in recent weeks and “halving” headlines have slowed given the event came and went on April 19.

Bitcoin’s price (BTC) was about $60,300 on Tuesday at 3 pm ET — down 13% from a month ago. 

The asset had seen a record seven consecutive months of price growth. That is set to end in April, a fate some segment observers had expected

It’s tricky to determine whether the long-term effects of the latest halving — an event during which per-block rewards for mining bitcoin dropped from 6.25 to 3.125 BTC — have been priced in, said Hashdex research head Pedro Lapenta. 

Bitcoin prices have historically peaked between 12 to 18 months after each halving, indicating BTC’s price might not hit new heights until next year. But bitcoin had never reached a record price so soon before a halving as it did this year — putting into question past trends.

Read more: The history of Bitcoin halvings — and why this time might look different

Either way, the recent BTC slump in April shouldn’t be alarming, Lapenta added.

“With bitcoin seeing seven straight months of gains, it’s typical for the period following a halving to involve modest increases or corrections, as we’re observing now,” he told Blockworks.

Fineqia International analyst Matteo Greco attributes BTC’s price decline to more investors taking profits after entering the market during the downturns of 2022 and 2023. Many ETF investors who saw significant share price appreciation since January did the same, he added.

To that end, the bitcoin ETF category has seen three straight weeks of net outflows — an unprecedented streak since such funds hit the US market in January.

Read more: New mix of bitcoin buyers bode well for ecosystem: Franklin Templeton exec

Those outflows are driven mainly by money exiting the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust ETF (GBTC), which is not new. That said, the category flow-leader — BlackRock’s iShares Bitcoin Trust (IBIT) — has seen zero flows on four straight trading days following a 71-day inflow streak, according to Farside Investors data.  

“Short-term uncertainty remains regarding whether demand for bitcoin ETFs has peaked or if investors are simply cautious due to BTC’s seven-month streak without a correction since September of last year,” Lapenta said.

K33 Research analysts Anders Helseth and Vetie Lunde wrote in a Tuesday note that “increasingly cautious traders” have indeed contributed to BTC’s price fall in recent weeks — “with the current market neither signaling bullish nor bearish aggression,” they added. 

The macroeconomic outlook is set to be a BTC price-mover this week, Helseth and Lunde noted, as traders will listen for the Federal Reserve’s guidance on rate cuts and easing.  

“Rate cut expectations have moderated substantially in the past month, with the market now pricing in one rate cut for the remainder of 2024 compared to the market’s expected six cuts in December 2023,” they wrote in the research note.

Read more: Cryptocurrencies, stocks slide ahead of Fed rate decision 

A less uncertain macroeconomic environment for risk assets would likely contribute to the next positive price movement for bitcoin, Lapenta said. 

Renewed demand for bitcoin’s network utility, like via the Runes protocol, points to a bullish outlook for BTC, he added. So too does large banks, pension funds and other traditional finance players wading deeper into the space, via ETFs or otherwise. 

Lapenta noted: “Taking everything into account, our outlook for 2024 remains positive, with a strong possibility of reaching another all-time high by year-end.”

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What could drive BTC price with halving complete, ETF demand stalled is written by Ben Strack for blockworks.co

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