Bitcoin and other tokens plunge as worldwide capital market jitters spill over to cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin and other tokens plunge as worldwide capital market jitters spill over to cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin plunged along with other cryptocurrencies on Saturday, in another indication of the risk aversion sweeping across financial markets.

The largest digital token fell to as low as US$42,296 before paring some of the tumble. It was trading at about US$47,600 as of 1:50pm in Singapore on Saturday, a drop of about 11 per cent.

Ether, the second-largest token, fell by as much as 17.4 per cent before trimming the retreat to about 10 per cent. The overall cryptocurrency sector has shed around a fifth of its value, sliding to US$2.2 trillion, according to tracker CoinGecko.

The swings in cryptocurrencies come amid a volatile period for financial markets. Spiking inflation is forcing central banks to tighten monetary policy, threatening to reduce the liquidity tailwind that lifted a wide range of assets.

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus has also led to risk aversion over concerns about what it might mean for global economic reopening.

Global stocks are down more than 4 per cent from a record in November, while haven assets like Treasuries have rallied.

Some leveraged buyers of bitcoin were flushed out in Saturday’s crash, according to Vijay Ayyar, head of Asia Pacific with cryptocurrency exchange Luno in Singapore.

“Markets have also been jittery with all the uncertainty around omicron, with cases now appearing in many countries,” he said. “It’s hard to say what that means for economies and markets and hence the uncertainty.”

About US$2.4 billion of cryptocurrency exposure, both long and short, was liquidated on Saturday, the most since September 7, according to data from Coinglass.com.

Bitcoin, famed for its volatility, has shed about US$21,000 since hitting a record on November 10.

But it’s still up more than 60 per cent this year, a return that exceeds many other assets – and El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele said the country had again bought the dip, adding 150 coins. The nation this year adopted bitcoin as legal tender.

“As usual, since cryptocurrency traders deploy leverage it results in cascading sell orders and liquidations,” said Antoni Trenchev, co-founder of cryptocurrency lender Nexo. “We should find support around US$40,000 to US$42,000 and then rebound in line for a end-year rally. If that does not hold, we might revisit the July lows of US$30,000 to US$35,000.”

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