Bitcoin plummets 20% as investors become risk averse

The largest digital token fell as low as $42,296 before paring some of the tumble

Bitcoin has shed about $21,000 since hitting a record on November 10. Photo: Reuters

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

The largest digital token fell as low as $42,296 before paring some of the tumble. It was trading at about $47,600 as of 1.50pm in Singapore on Saturday, a drop of about 11 per cent.

Ether, the second-largest token, fell as much as 17.4 per cent before trimming the retreat to about 10 per cent. The overall crypto sector has shed around a fifth of its value, sliding to $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 crypto 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 $2.4 billion of crypto 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 $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.

Updated: December 4th 2021, 9:25 AM