Week in Review: Cryptocurrencies and Stocks Fall Deeper into Correction as Volatility Spikes

The global financial markets are wrapping up a highly volatile week of trade, with widespread losses reported across multiple asset classes. Cryptocurrencies plunged by as much as $550 billion from their record peak, while stocks narrowly avoided their worst week since the financial crisis. The narrative underpinning the Trump rally is slowly unraveling with rate-hike jitters threatening the sustainability of the global economic recovery.

Cryptocurrencies Stabilize After Massive Correction

After a chaotic week, the global cryptocurrency market settled above $400 billion on Friday, with bitcoin and major altcoins recovering. The market’s total value bottomed near $276 billion on Tuesday, as regulatory uncertainty triggered a panic sale across virtually all major assets. This would later fuel a major technical reversal sending bitcoin below $6,000.

By Friday, bitcoin’s value recovered above $8,500, accounting for roughly 36% of the market’s total capitalization.

The rout in cryptos immediately followed a prolonged buying frenzy that pushed the market north of $830 billion. The sharp correction has many traders searching for a bottom. Prognosticators haven’t been very helpful, with experts predicting anything from a zero-bound crash to multi-trillion-dollar gains.

On the regulatory front, U.S. securities agencies struck a cautiously optimistic tone about the future of cryptocurrency trading. In prepared testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, the heads of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission made no mention of a major regulatory shakeup.

Highly Volatile Week for Stocks Ends Positive

U.S. stocks were on track for their biggest weekly drop since the financial crisis before a late-session surge Friday pared some of the losses. Even with a 330-point Friday rally, the Dow plunged 5.2% for the week, its worst showing in two years.

The broader S&P 500 Index also lost 5.2% following a brief stint at three-month lows.

A measure of implied volatility known as the CBOE VIX spiked above 40 on Friday after reaching a high of 50 earlier this week. The spike in volatility is perhaps the clearest signal yet that smooth gains under President Trump are no longer guaranteed.

As Hacked reported earlier this week, products that short volatility shed billions this week, with the VelocityShares XIV ETN falling from $1.9 billion in assets to just $110 million.

The Wall Street selloff triggered broad declines globally, with Chinese stocks leading the declines and Japan’s Nikkei 225 falling into correction territory.

The Week Ahead

The biggest question heading into next week is whether equities and cryptos will fall deeper into correction, or whether the market will rebound from its recent bottom. The general decline of pro-growth optimism has left Wall Street worse off than it was at the start of the year.

The cryptocurrency market has also entered a period of uncertainty, as investors continue to fret about possible regulatory action against digital currency exchanges. So far, these fears have been overblown, with South Korea adopting only limited measures to control the market and the United States expressing cautious optimism about the future of regulation.

In terms of economic data, the middle of February offers up several high profile releases, including U.S. CPI and Eurozone GDP. The final batches of Q4 earnings are also expected.

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 Hacked.com and Contributor to CCN.com, 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