Bitcoin drops to below $41,000 as Russia-Ukraine tension weighs on markets

Earlier this month, the largest cryptocurrency exhibited similar moves to the Nasdaq Composite, with investors viewing digital assets as 'risk-on'

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Bitcoin fell below $41,000, testing its 50-day moving average, as renewed fears of a possible Ukraine invasion by Russia weighed on global markets, including risk assets.

The biggest cryptocurrency on the market dipped as much as 7.4 per cent, while Ether, the second largest token, fell 8.2 per cent and Polkadat led a downturn in smaller-cap tokens, also known as alt-coins.

“The geopolitical situation in Europe and Ukraine is having material impact,” said Barbara Matthews, founder and chief executive of BCMStrategy. “But, I think it is underappreciated how much monetary policy continues to generate uncertainty and volatility in the markets.”

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve released minutes from the committee’s January meeting, which reinforced its intention to act swiftly to quell rising inflation with tightening monetary policy.

Markets appeared to expect the stance, having a relatively mixed or muted response. Bitcoin, which exhibits a strong correlation to movements in the US stock indexes lately, even gained with the S&P 500 in the minutes after the memo’s release.

Earlier this month, Bitcoin’s 30-day correlation with the Nasdaq Composite reached 0.73, nearly matching its five-year high of 0.74 in 2020.

The figure indicates the two asset classes are exhibiting similar moves, with investors viewing digital assets as “risk-on”, along with the Nasdaq’s signature marquee technology stocks. The coefficient currently stands at 0.62.

Matthew Sigel, head of digital assets research at VanEck Associates, said large moves down in stocks, or “disorderly spikes” in crude and bond yields, could lead to exaggerated declines for cryptocurrencies.

However, he noted Bitcoin’s volatility appears to demonstrate a long-term downtrend, with the Nasdaq 100 exhibiting more standard deviation moves than its five-year average compared with the coin.

“Bitcoin network participants have enjoyed consistent outperformance versus equities with volatility that, while high, is showing a declining relative trend,” Mr Sigel said.

Updated: February 18, 2022, 8:40 AM