Sunday, July 25, 2021

business

Bitcoin bounces after weekend plunge


Bitcoin investors were strapped into another roller-coaster ride of sudden drops this weekend, as the price dove below $32,000 before recovering somewhat Monday.

Leveling around $38,000 in afternoon trading, the most valuable cryptocurrency is still up more than 30 percent for the year. But the most recent sell-off highlights the staggering volatility of the crypto market and the huge losses that investors can suffer in the span of just days or hours. Bitcoin holders have seen their investments slide more than 40 percent since the high of $65,000 set in April.

Overall, the crypto market has battered investors over the past week as world governments signal increasing scrutiny and traders liquidate their holdings, halting the frenzy that pushed prices skyward. The total value of all cryptocurrencies tumbled by more than $400 billion over the past seven days, according to CoinMarketCap, a cryptocurrency price tracker.

After a three-day losing spell and a negative week, Wall Street is on track to extend its gains from Friday, as the Dow Jones industrial average climbed more than 200 points, or 0.8 percent, during the afternoon trading session. The S&P 500 rose by 52 points, or 1.3 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq increased by 234 points, or 1.7 percent.

After clawing back some losses late last week, stock investors continue to gauge the rate of the economic recovery and the rollout of coronavirus vaccines.

Jeff Buchbinder, an equity strategist for LPL Financial, said a strong economic recovery lies ahead as businesses reopen further, bolstering projections for future earnings and raising company valuations. But that optimism is checked by the potential for inflation to rise in the second half of the year, alongside the possibility of rising interest rates, he said, adding that as "this bull market gets a little older, the pace of stock market gains will likely slow and come with more volatility."

Last week, the Federal Reserve released the minutes of its April meeting, revealing that officials began to discuss the possibility of easing off its monthly bond purchases, intended to boost the economy. But Fed Chair Jerome Powell has said that the Fed was not even "thinking about thinking about" reducing its bond buying.

"Fed minutes last week seemed to have been shrugged off as the Fed continues its wait-and-see posture, which added wind beneath the tech sector's wings," said Chris Larkin, a managing director at E-Trade Financial. "Interestingly, though, we did see some discord among Fed officials - how the market interprets that in the coming days remains to be seen."

The plunge in cryptocurrency prices comes as U.S. Treasury officials announced a new tax compliance plan to raise an additional $700 billion, including a measure to enhance reporting requirements on cryptocurrency. Under the initiative, announced Thursday, companies that receive cryptocurrency with a fair market value of more than $10,000 would be required to provide the Internal Revenue Service with more financial information.

The report described digital currency as a "significant concern." "Cryptocurrency already poses a significant detection problem by facilitating illegal activity broadly including tax evasion," the report said.

On the same day, officials at the Bank of Canada said that the rapid evolution of cryptocurrency markets "is an emerging financial vulnerability." While the central bank acknowledged that the markets are not of systemic importance to the nation as an asset class or a means of payment, officials said that could change if, for instance, a giant tech company issued a cryptocurrency of its own that became widely adopted.

Potentially rattling investors further, government proposals put forward Friday would limit cryptocurrency exchanges based in Hong Kong to serve only those users who are professional investors - those who already have a significant investment portfolio - knocking retail investors out of the regulated market.

 

Dogecoin, a popular cryptocurrency that began as a joke, was also down significantly from its all-time high. The token was trading around 33 cents Monday afternoon, down from a record 74 cents reached during the run-up to billionaire executive Elon Musk's appearance on "Saturday Night Live."

Published : May 25, 2021

By : The Washington Post · Hamza Shaban