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Bitcoin Aligns with Tech Titans: The New Powerhouse in High-Growth Assets

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Robert Tavares

May 17, 2024 - 13:28 pm

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Bitcoin Emerges as a Contender Amid Growing Correlation with Tech Equities

Amid the Federal Reserve's previous tightening cycle, Bitcoin, which had often been coupled with various speculative investments, experienced a significant downturn. This decline came as investors anticipated that the rise in interest rates would reduce the overall appetite for risk. However, as the sentiment shifts and anticipation grows for potentially lower borrowing costs, advocates for the largest cryptocurrency argue that Bitcoin is now more similar to high-growth assets, such as technology stocks.

Bitcoin's Trading Patterns Signal a New Relationship with Tech Stocks

As of late, Bitcoin has indeed been trading in a manner that reflects its growing alignment with the tech sector. The 90-day correlation coefficient between the digital currency and the tech-centric Nasdaq 100 index has soared to 0.46 this week. This is the highest it has reached since the end of August 2021. This coefficient indicates how assets move in relation to one another, with a value of 1 signifying that they move in unison, whereas a value of minus-1 reflects completely opposite movements. Following the commencement of the Fed's interest rate hikes in early 2022, the correlation between Bitcoin and the Nasdaq skyrocketed to more than 0.8; this represents the strongest concordance witnessed since Bitcoin's inception into mainstream investment discussions.

Crypto as a Network Value Representation

Joshua Lim, the co-founder of Arbelos Markets, highlights the newfound focus on cryptocurrencies from the perspective of them being growth assets and representations of network value. The technological capabilities and the role of cryptocurrencies as a means of value transfer have led to their increased correlation with other high-growth assets, such as Nasdaq and tech equities.

Cryptocurrency proponents have, for a long time, touted Bitcoin as an asset that was uncorrelated, not influenced by the whims of governments, and immune to external factors. Launched into the world in 2008 by the enigmatic Satoshi Nakamoto, whether a solo individual or a collective, Bitcoin promised a decentralized currency out of the reach of governmental and central banking institutions. Over the years, it has been variously lauded as a digital equivalent of gold, a hedge against inflation, and a dependable store of value. However, the frequent and often dramatic fluctuations in Bitcoin's price have somewhat undermined these claims.

Bitcoin ETFs Introduce a New Investor Class

The recent authorization of US exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that hold Bitcoin directly has broadened the horizons of the cryptocurrency by welcoming new tiers of investors. These funds have shown exceptional growth, hailed as some of the fastest-growing ETFs in history.

Since the onset of 2024, the S&P 500 index and Bitcoin have exhibited a notably strong correlation. This link between the two has effectively shattered the long-standing theory of Bitcoin as a steadfast store of value. Toby Winterflood, who is the chief product officer at CCData, believes that Bitcoin's current highs are predominantly fueled by the maturity and rapid growth of these ETFs.

Bitcoin at the Forefront of the Market Surge

There was a remarkable surge in Bitcoin's value after these ETFs were introduced in January, with its price peaking at almost $74,000 in March, before stabilizing as demand for the investment vehicles started to wane. On a recent Friday, Bitcoin's price increased by approximately 1.4%, reaching around $66,200. The cryptocurrency has observed a nearly 10% increase within the past week alone. Overall, there has been a jaw-dropping 58% increase in the value of Bitcoin throughout the year, in stark contrast with an 11% rise in the Nasdaq 100.

According to Lim, the US ETFs, the record high of Bitcoin in March, and the subsequent blockchain halving in April have all served as significant catalysts. These factors have attracted the attention of traditional allocators who were previously uninvolved in cryptocurrency, encouraging them to start investing in it. Now, with these catalysts in the past, the market focus is shifting back toward the broader macroeconomic outlook.

Inflation Dynamics and the Federal Reserve's Impact on Bitcoin

Recent data has revealed a glimmer of hope as a key measure of underlying US inflation showed a decline in April, marking the first time in six months. The core consumer price index, which strategically omits the volatile food and energy prices, inched up by only 0.3% from the preceding month, after consistently yielding higher-than-expected results for three months. However, various Fed officials have remarked that the central bank should maintain high borrowing costs while waiting for further proof of easing inflation. This ongoing cautious stance by the Fed implies that rate cuts might not be imminent.

Lim opines that if the Fed decides to lower interest rates, it would presumably have a bullish impact on risk assets—including, by extrapolation, cryptocurrencies. This potential action by the central bank could inject newfound vigor into the crypto market.

Bitcoin's Steady Trajectory and Future Outlook

CCData's research reveals that since the inauguration of the US ETFs, Bitcoin has consistently showcased solidity in its growth and resilience. Winterflood, from CCData, speculates about the future moves of the Fed. He contemplates whether Bitcoin will resume its previous pattern as a so-called riskier asset or if it will transition into being viewed as a conventional alternate asset by more traditional markets.

Conclusion: The Evolving Identity of Bitcoin

As cryptocurrency investors pivot their attention back toward the strategies of the Federal Reserve, the market remains in a state of anticipation. The shifting dynamics could redefine Bitcoin's position in the global financial landscape. It stands on the cusp of potentially significant change, dependent on the actions of central banks and the broader economic environment.

In the coming months, the financial community will keenly observe whether Bitcoin will mimic its historical performance or carve out a new niche as an alternative investment in the traditional marketplace.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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