Crypto Markets Get a Boost Heading Into the Weekend as Debate Over Bitcoin ETF Intensifies

Cryptocurrency prices rose on Saturday, alleviating the risk of an imminent pullback following days of mostly lateral moves. As history has shown, longer periods of sideways trading are often followed by brisk selloffs in bitcoin and altcoins.

Flush of Green

The biggest cryptocurrencies all reported gains at the start of the weekend. Bitcoin, the largest by market cap, climbed back above $3,700 in a show of momentum for the bulls. At last check, the bitcoin price was valued at $3,744.11, having gained 2.5% from Friday.

Bitcoin’s price broke out on Monday but failed to generate sustained bids throughout the week. As a result, it spent most of that period hovering between $3,600-$3,700. Bitcoin faces a major long-term support at $3,550; a break below this key level could be a momentum killer for the bulls.

The leading digital currency continues to be a good barometer for the overall market. With a market dominance rate of 52.5%, bitcoin has a direct impact on how altcoins and tokens perform. It comes as no surprise that coins other than bitcoin rose by more than $2 billion on Saturday, according to CoinMarketCap.

The total market cap of all cryptocurrencies improved to $124.7 billion, up markedly from a 24-hour low of $120.9 billion.

Litecoin was the top gainer among major cryptos, rising 4.4% to $32.65. XRP added 1.7% to $0.3313, Ethereum climbed 2.5% to $125.01 and bitcoin cash rose 1.4$% to $130.70.

Outside the top-ten, IOTA rose 4.1% to $0.3246. NEO advanced 5% to trade at $8.09.

Bitcoin ETF Debate Continues

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has a big decision to make in roughly five weeks: approve or reject the VanEck SolidX Bitcoin Trust. Unlike previous crypto ETF applications, the VanEck-SolidX application proposes a physically-settled bitcoin fund that addresses many of the SEC’s ongoing concerns around investor protection and market manipulation.

Some investors are clinging to the hope that SEC approval of the VanEck-SolidX product will give the market a much needed boost by the end of the first quarter. But the impact of the approval/rejection could depend largely on how the market performs heading into the decision, now slated for Feb. 27. As Hacked reported last month: “The rejection of an ETF approval could affect the market if the price of Bitcoin has been increasing in anticipation of the announcement.” More here.

The consensus among analysts and market observers is that the SEC is unlikely to approve any bitcoin ETF this year. This view was recently echoed by bitcoin bull and CNBC contributor Brian Kelly, who says the bitcoin futures market isn’t mature enough to allow for an ETF to be approved. He didn’t comment specifically on the VanEck application, which has been designed as an alternative to futures-linked products by holding a repository of physical BTC as opposed to derivatives.

The SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) named crypto as one of six regulatory focal points for 2019. In a recently released report, OCIE said: “Given the significant growth and risks presented in this market, OCIE will continue to monitor the offer and sale, trading, and management of digital assets, and where the products are securities, examine for regulatory compliance.”

For more on this story, read: As Race for Bitcoin ETF Heats Up, SEC Identifies Cryptocurrency as a Top Priority in 2019.

Disclaimer: The author owns Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Chief Editor to and Contributor to, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi