Week in Review: Ethereum Hits Record High as Stocks Return to Strength

Ethereum stole the spotlight from bitcoin this week after the world’s no. 2 cryptocurrency soared to new highs. Bitcoin still shot up more than $500 for the week to trade well north of $8,000.

On the commodities front, oil prices spiked to fresh two-year highs amid signs of a rebalancing crude market. This kept energy shares buoyant in a holiday-shortened Friday session.

Ethereum’s Major Breakthrough

ETH/USD had one of its strongest weeks in recent memory as traders took price levels above a key technical threshold. The native ether token spiked more than 38% over the past five days, which is equivalent to $126. Prices touched a high of $466.85 before consolidating around $458. The gains five Ethereum a market cap of $44 billion, according to CoinMarketCap. Trade volumes over the past 24 hours exceeded $2.2 billion.

Activity in South Korea appears to be the major catalyst behind the weekly gains, with won-related ether trades showing strong volumes on Bithumb. Price action suggests ether prices could be headed higher over the short term.

Bitcoin Holds Its Ground

Ethereum may have stolen the show this week, but bitcoin certainly was no slouch. The original blockchain surged to new highs this week on signs that institutional traders will soon pour into the market. BTC/USD touched highs north of $8,370 earlier this week before consolidating in the mid $8,200 region.

Bitcoin Cash (BCH) also posted firm gains, as the market extended its rally from two weeks ago. BCH/USD added more than 44% this week to settle around $1,650. The alternative bitcoin has seen a surge in momentum after backers of the Segwit2x hard fork abandoned their upgrade, citing a lack of consensus.

Crude Oil’s New Two-Year High

Crude prices rose across the board this week as a sharp drop in U.S. stockpiles boosted confidence that the global energy market is rebalancing after a prolonged glut. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for January settlement rose 93 cents, or 1.6%, to $58.95 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract briefly traded above $59.00 in holiday-shortened trade.

ICE Brent futures, which are traded on the global market, climbed 31 cents, or 0.5%, to $63.86 a barrel.

Despite the latest rally, crude prices could face renewed pressure next week as traders evaluate the latest oil rig data from Baker Hughes. On Friday, the energy services provider said active U.S. oil rigs rose by nine to 747 in the latest week. Rig counts are expected to continue rising as oil prices return to health.

Wall Street Notches Weekly Gains

U.S. stocks advanced in a holiday-shortened week, as investors awaited President Trump’s final push for tax reform before Christmas.

Activity on Wall Street was muted this week, with the New York Stock Exchange closing for Thanksgiving on Thursday. Market activity remained limited in a shortened session on Friday.

The large-cap S&P 500 Index, Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq Composite Index each rose to new highs this week.

The S&P 500 rose 0.2% on Friday to close at 2,602.42. The Dow added 0.1% to finish at 23,557.99. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq notched gains of 0.3% to close at 6,889.16.

Energy stocks were among the better performers on Friday, rising 0.3% as a sector.

A measure of implied volatility known as the CBOE VIX fell back to single-digit territory, signaling renewed optimism in U.S. markets. The VIX “fear index” closed at 9.67 Friday, on a scale of 1-100 where 20 represents the historic mean.

Globally, Chinese markets stabilized at the end of the week following their biggest one-day drop in nearly a year. Volatility hit mainland stocks on Thursday as Beijing took fresh measures to curb market speculation.  The Shanghai Composite Index closed at 3,353.82 on Friday, where it was little changed from the previous session.

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