Bitcoin barely reacted to today’s CME futures expiry, but is this a bullish or bearish signal?
Today’s Bitcoin (BTC) futures expiry was lackluster both in terms of price impact and volume. Open interest dropped by a mere $157 million, barely moving from its $5 billion mark.
As CoinTelegraph correctly predicted yesterday, this most recent CME Bitcoin futures expiry was irrelevant. Some $125 million worth of August contracts were set to liquidate today, although preliminary data indicates less than $40 million were not rolled over for the upcoming months.
Total open interest, USD million. Source: Bybt.com & CoinTelegraph
The chart above shows the total open interest change over the past 24-hours, although the data includes inverse swaps (perpetual) and the remaining calendar months.
Nevertheless, this is strikingly opposite from the July expiry when $500 million worth of futures contracts were liquidated.
The main reason behind such traders’ indifference to today’s expiry seems to be the failure to establish support levels above $11,200 over the past few weeks.
As CoinTelegraph mentioned earlier this week, the current “macro factors hint at a positive medium-term to long-term price cycle but suggest that in the near term, momentum will fade and a consolidation phase will happen.”
Bitcoin intraday price chart, USD. Source: TradingView
The markets behaved completely differently over the last weeks of each futures contract expiry, hence a different outcome on the amount that was liquidated. Late July presented a 26% bull run, whereas the past two weeks have been flat.
Open interest is more important than small-sized expiries
Some traders may be disappointed by Bitcoin’s recent loss of momentum but this does not mean that professional investors exited the futures markets. The absence of volume, or the stability of futures open interest means bets have already been placed.
Investors should only worry when there is diminishing open interest as this is an indication that savvy traders have reduced their exposure. This would be especially concerning during consolidation phases.
Bitcoin futures aggregate open interest. Source: Skew
Such a bearish scenario is not the case, as the total open interest among all exchanges more than doubled throughout 2020. The current $4.9 billion mark is just $800 million shy of the historical high achieved on August 17.
Bitcoin appears highly correlated to gold and that’s ok
Regardless of the 30-day and 90-day correlations, tight intraday moves between gold and Bitcoin sometimes last for a couple of days. This holds especially true when large macroeconomic events like this week’s Jackson Hole conference dominate the scene.
BTC/USD, Gold price action. Source: TradingView
Please note that the above chart holds different scales as the percent-based oscillations will vary among each asset. Nevertheless, the similarity in the intraday moves between gold and Bitcoin is quite impressive.
This short-term correlation should not be interpreted as a sign of Bitcoin becoming more of a global reserve asset, but instead a reminder that crypto markets are significantly impacted by the same external events that guide traditional markets.
As for the remaining futures market expiries throughout the year, one should keep a close eye on the basis (contango) and top traders long/short ratio as both provide valuable insight into the sentiment of larger investors.