Bitcoin and other major crypto assets rebounded with other risks assets on late Thursday and Friday as US President Joe Biden stopped short of imposing the harshest sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
Bitcoin, the most traded cryptocurrency, was trading at $38,198 as of 9:35 a.m. in London, 7.1 percent higher over the previous 24 hours, after falling as low as $34,400 on Friday in the immediate aftermath of Russia’s initial attack on Ukraine.
While the US hit Russia with sanctions, including cutting its biggest lender, Sberbank, off from the US financial system, it didn’t remove Russia from the SWIFT global payments system or impose personal sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Bitcoin is paring losses as some investors think the majority of the brunt of the selling is over,” said Edward Moya, financial analyst at Oanda. “The Russia-Ukraine crisis will remain a volatile situation, but most of that risk aversion has been priced in for Bitcoin.”
Some commentators suggested Bitcoin could allow Russia to circumvent Western sanctions, but Quantum Economics analyst Jason Deane said it’s “too young” of a technology for this sort of purpose. Five to 10 years down the road, though, it might be a whole different story, he said.
In January, Putin said he backed a Russian government proposal to tax and regulate mining of cryptocurrencies despite the central bank earlier proposing a complete ban on their use.
Traders betting against a rise in cryptocurrencies suffered losses of up to $143 million in the past 12 hours as global markets recovered from Thursday's declines, because 73 percent of traders were ‘shorting’ the market — or betting against a rise, CoinDesk reported, citing data from analytics tool Coinglass.
While cryptocurrencies have been increasingly correlated with so-called risk assets, such as US equities, stablecoins — virtual tokens pegged to traditional currencies — held up well during Thursday’s volatility.
Most stablecoins were slightly higher on the day. Their market capitalization was up 0.3 percent at $182.5 billion, according to cryptocurrency data tracker coinmarketcap.com. Its daily trading volume, though, surged 75 percent to $108.1 billion.
“You have a risk-off environment that's been happening for months now, and that in some ways has increased the demand for digital dollars, and so we've certainly seen into the end of last year and through today pretty significant growth in demand for USDC,” said Jeremy Allaire, co-founder and CEO of Circle, referring to the stablecoin USD coin, pegged to the US dollar on a 1-to-1 basis.