Why retail traders are snapping up cryptocurrency stocks

They have acquired nearly $1bn worth of shares of crypto-exposed companies since last week

Bitcoin is on track for its first monthly gain since March, and the retail crowd has shown up en masse, flocking particularly to mining stocks. AP
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Retail traders, responsible for the wild price swings in everything from GameStop to Revlon, have returned to another old favourite: beaten-down cryptocurrency stocks.

Over the past 10 days, they have scooped up nearly $1 billion worth of shares of cryptocurrency-exposed companies, according to a report published on Wednesday by VandaTrack. That rapid burst of buying has led to stocks including Marathon Digital Holdings, Coinbase Global and Riot Blockchain showing up among the most bought assets on Fidelity’s platform this week.

“Retail traders are definitely surfacing here,” said Ed Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda. “Everyone expected one last major plunge for Bitcoin and now prices are recovering and risk appetite on Wall Street is somewhat improving.”

With the resurgence, the NYSE FactSet Global Blockchain Technologies Index is now on track for its largest monthly gain since February 2021.

Among its biggest gainers this month, Marathon Digital has jumped 133 per cent, while Riot Blockchain, Silvergate Capital and Coinbase have all climbed by at least 50 per cent. These stocks are still down more than 40 per cent this year.

The Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index, which tracks the performance of the largest digital assets including Bitcoin, has climbed roughly 35 per cent over that stretch.

And half of the 20 best-performing US ETFs since the end of June are cryptocurrency-related. However, Bitcoin is still down about 51 per cent this year.

Despite July’s rebound, cryptocurrency-related companies have been among the worst-performing stocks this year as investors fled risky assets fearing that the Federal Reserve’s aggressive policy-tightening regime could tip the economy into a recession.

The collapse of the TerraUSD stablecoin and subsequent folding of firms including Celsius Network and Three Arrows Capital only exacerbated these losses in recent months.

Mining stocks have taken a particularly hard beating as Bitcoin prices tumbled from a record high of almost $69,000 in November to a two-and-a-half year low of less than $18,000 last month. Bitcoin’s plunge has spurred several analysts to declare a so-called “crypto winter” as roughly $2 trillion in market value was erased from the digital-token space.

Even one of the biggest influencers in the cryptocurrency space has seemingly started to get cold feet. On Wednesday, Elon Musk’s Tesla revealed that it had sold off a majority of its Bitcoin holdings during the second quarter, saying the move was made to provide the electric-vehicle maker additional liquidity.

But that has not deterred some traders. With Bitcoin on track for its first monthly gain since March, the retail crowd has shown up en masse, flocking particularly to mining stocks.

The $7.4 million Viridi Bitcoin Miners ETF has jumped roughly 33 per cent this month, making it one of the top-performing US-listed exchange-traded funds in July. Stronghold Digital Mining, which is held by the ETF, surged more than 79 per cent over the same period and is on track for its best month on record.

Trading volume for the miner soared to upwards of 100 million shares on Wednesday, more than 70 per cent of its total trading volume since it went public last year, a sign of retail-investor interest.

“Whenever any stock or group breaks out of a multimonth range to the upside, the rally usually lasts several weeks,” said Matt Maley, chief market strategist at Miller Tabak + Co. “It won’t happen in a straight line, so they could take a breather at any time, but the line of least resistance is now up.”

Updated: July 24, 2022, 5:30 AM
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