Published:
December 16, 2019 1:57 PM UTC

Easing Trade Tensions Could Crash Bitcoin Further as Stocks Steal the Spotlight

Investors' growing appetite for risk-on assets is sending haven assets, including the new kid bitcoin, on a falling spree.

  • Institutional investors could give bitcoin a last-minute ditch after positive developments in the ongoing U.S.-China trade war.
  • Capital is moving out of haven assets like gold and the Japanese yen to join risk-on markets.
  • The bull run in stocks could continue in 2020.

Easing trade tensions between the United States and China is making bitcoin a less-attractive haven asset for investors.

The benchmark cryptocurrency has fallen by roughly 20%, or $1,700, since Oct. 11 – the day Donald Trump agreed to pursue a “phase one” trade deal with Beijing. The plunge also came as a part of a larger correction that started after bitcoin established $13,686 as its year-to-date (YTD) high in June.

Other popular safe-haven destinations have also witnessed their uptrends stalling. On Friday, the gold price closed 5.2% from its YTD peak of $1,557.10, established on September 4.

Gold’s spot rate closed Friday $81 down from its YTD peak | Source: TradingView, ICE

The Japanese yen and U.S. dollar, too, moved lower. At the same time, the yields on the benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury note surged from YTD lows of 1.428% to the Friday close of 1.825%.

The yield on the U.S. 10-year Treasury bond surged by 27.9% from YTD bottom as of Friday. | Source: TradingView.com, TVC

Stocks Steal the Limelight

Investors moved into safe-haven assets earlier this year after getting pushed by a string of pessimistic macroeconomic events. As of May, both the U.S. and China were slapping tit-for-tat tariffs on each others’ exporting goods; a Brexit deal was looking uncertain; and, a benchmark yield curve indicator was casting fears of a major recession.

But last days saw many of those concerns easing. On Dec. 14, the U.S. and China partially calmed down their trade war. Washington confirmed that it would not slap tariffs on $120 billion of Chinese goods while Beijing agreed to purchase at least $40 billion worth of U.S. agricultural products.

In the U.K., Boris Johnson’s conservative party won parliamentary elections by huge margins. The victory flagged the possibility of a positive Brexit deal.

Both developments made stocks an attractive destination for global investors. The U.S. benchmark S&P 500 index shot to its record high on Thursday. Other indexes, including the Dow Jones and the Nasdaq Composite, too, registered fresh yearly highs on Friday.

The Dow Jones Index on Friday established its YTD high of 28,290.70. | Source: TradingView.com, TVC

At the same time, U.K. stocks rallied higher on Monday morning. Afternoon data of London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index showed 2.2% growth. The FTSE 250, which traces locally exposed medium-scale British businesses, registered a 1.5% intraday gain.

No Love for Bitcoin

Technical factors continued to rule trading sentiment in crypto-land.

Bitcoin met with positive developments in the form of a Bakkt launch and China’s premier Xi Jinping’s endorsement of its underlying technology – the blockchain. But none of those events were able to materialize a strong price reversal.

Instead, traders drove bitcoin in make-believe technical ranges. They appeared to have been buying the cryptocurrency at the support of a descending channel and selling it later at the resistance of the same channel.

Psychological factors taking bitcoin down as big investors avoid capital injection | Source; TradingView.com, Coinbase

With speculation high and big investors giving a last-minute ditch to bitcoin for more attractive stock positions, the cryptocurrency could be heading down towards its psychological support range of $6,000-6,500.

Investors, nevertheless, are bullish for the long-term. They expect the cryptocurrency to make wild upside moves ahead of its halving. In May 2020, the supply rate of bitcoin will be cut by half, making it more scarce should the demand mount.

More adoption expected for bitcoin after the May 2020 halving. | Source: Twitter

Stock Rally to Continue, Meanwhile

Jeff Saut, the chief investment strategist at Capital Wealth Planning, noted that investors are carrying their stock positions into 2020 on a cautious note.

He told CNBC that the stock indexes could undergo 30-40% downside corrections. But such a move would happen after they establish new all-time highs. Excerpts from his statement:

You’ve got the seasonality tailwinds. Central banks of the world are printing money and that’s all you really need to know. … Going into year-end, I think the market trades higher. I think next year you can see between 3500 to 3600 on the S&P 500.

This article was edited by Sam Bourgi.

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Last modified: January 22, 2020 11:40 PM UTC

Yashu Gola @whoisyashu

New Delhi-based Yashu Gola has been working as a financial/crypto market journalist since 2013. He is an information technology graduate, a cryptography junkie, a filmmaking enthusiast, and an avid reader of Jon Erickson, Agatha Christie, JK Rowling, and Isaac Asimov.

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