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Market Wrap: Stellar, ICP Pop as Altcoin Season Takes Ether to Fresh High



Stellar jumps by double digits, Dfinity’s ICP debuts on the Coinbase Pro exchange and ether hits $4,200, albeit briefly. Despite bitcoin’s doldrums, data from the futures market shows traders are ready to take on more leverage on BTC.

Ether (ETH) trading around $4,016 as of 21:00 UTC (4 p.m. ET). Gaining 4.5% over the previous 24 hours.Ether’s 24-hour range: $3,884-$4,200 (CoinDesk 20)Stellar (XLM) trading around $0.68 as of 21:00 UTC (4 p.m. ET). Gaining 10.8% over the previous 24 hours.Bitcoin (BTC) trading around $55,685 as of 21:00 UTC (4 p.m. ET). Slipping 3% over the previous 24 hours.Bitcoin’s 24-hour range: $57,266-$59,442 (CoinDesk 20)

Stellar’s rally offers fresh reminder it’s altcoin season

Performance of stellar so far in 2021.

Source: TradingView

The biggest CoinDesk 20 gainer Monday was stellar, the currency of the Stellar project started in 2014 by longtime crypto entrepreneur Jed McCaleb. XLM is worth $0.68 and gained 10.8% the past 24 hours as of press time. Over the course of 2021 XLM has been, well, stellar; as of press time, the price is up over 435% this year. 

In October, Stellar added support for the stablecoin USDC, part of an effort to get into dollar-backed remittances.

“I think the fact Stellar added stablecoin on- [and] off-ramps helped a lot to boost the price,” said investment manager Constantin Kogan. 

Analysts struggled Monday to find a reason why stellar is now making double-digit gains other than to say that it’s “alt season.” That’s crypto-industry speak for periods of time where traders rotate profits out of bitcoin and into alternative cryptocurrencies. Older tokens like XLM “are starting to get a lot of renewed attention,” said Zach Friedman, chief operating officer of quant trading firm Global Digital Assets.

Internet computer token chart Monday as it went live on Coinbase.

Source: CoinMarketCap

Another example of this rush into altcoins came Monday from a years-in-the-making project that has now pushed forward to tap what appears to be ample market liquidity.      

Dfinity, once positioned as a potential rival to Ethereum but now marketing itself as an “internet computer” with a much broader ambit, listed its ICP tokens on Coinbase Pro, which instantly vaulted it into the ranks of the largest cryptocurrencies.  

As of press time, ICP was trading around $277 on the venue, according to CoinMarketCap. 

“I think right now we are still in the altcoin season,” said Alessandro Andreotti, an over-the-counter crypto trader. 

Read More: Dfinity’s ICP Token Price Goes Live on Coinbase Pro

Ether’s price continues to sparkle

Ether’s hourly price chart on Bitstamp since May 7.

Source: TradingView

Ether, the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, was trading around $4,016 as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET), up 4.5% over the prior 24 hours. 

Ether hit a new all-time high price on Monday ot $4,213 at around 08:45 UTC (12:45 p.m. ET). 

“Ethereum has been pushing stable growth and hitting new all-time highs, albeit this is being eclipsed by the gains in the alt market,” Friedman said.  

On Monday, ether’s dominance, or its share of the total crypto market capitalization, crossed 20% for the first time in three years.

Read More: Ether Price Past $4K for First Time, Approaches JPMorgan’s Market Value

Ether market capitalization dominance since 2018.

Source: TradingView

“We are witnessing a prolonged ether and [decentralized finance] catchup phase after a long period when most institutional interest was clustered around bitcoin,” said Jean-Marc Bonnefous, partner at investment firm Tellurian Capital. “This shows in the growth in CME ether futures and also in the fact that the move up is relatively orderly.”

Aggregated open interest in ether futures hit $10.7 billion Sunday, continuing to sustain above $10 billion even through the weekend, according to data aggregator Skew.

Ether futures open interest across major venues.

Source: Skew

So far this year, ether is up over 440% while bitcoin has appreciated 91% on spot exchange Bitstamp. 

“Ether is currently outpacing bitcoin, in part because investor sentiments are charged in hopes of a more healthy network in the future,” said Konstantin Anissimov, executive director of exchange CEX.IO.

Bitcoin (orange) versus ether (blue) so far this year.

Source: TradingView

“There is a lot of forward-looking excitement for the Ethereum community with protocol upgrades incoming,” said Jason Lau, chief operating officer for San Francisco-based exchange OKCoin. “ETH 2.0 is slated to arrive sooner than expected.” 

“Ultimately, the potential and emergence of a decentralized future is a narrative that is attracting speculators, investors, users and developers across Ethereum and other crypto ecosystems,” he said.

Bitcoin swaps funding trends up

Bitcoin’s hourly price chart on Bitstamp since May 7.

Source: TradingView

The price of bitcoin was down Monday at 3% as of press time and going as high as $59,442 around 04:00 UTC (12 a.m. ET). 

“Things will keep on going like this until and if bitcoin makes another move,” said Alessandro Andreotti, over-the-counter crypto trader. “Then the altcoin frenzy will stop for some time.”

One bullish signal is occurring in the bitcoin derivatives market. On Monday perpetual swaps funding, which is the rate paid for leverage on BTC derivatives venues, is on an upswing, going as high as 0.0987% per eight-hour period on Binance.

Bitcoin perpetual swaps funding across major venues.

Source: Skew

At least one analyst thinks it is only a matter of time before the bitcoin spotlight begins to shine once again. 

“Alt tokens will make new highs and significant gains before a final transition into bitcoin as these gains level out,” added Global Digital Asset’s Friedman. “This will result in a push upwards from bitcoin targeting the $70,000 levels.”

Other markets

Digital assets on the CoinDesk 20 are in the red on Monday. One notable winner as of 21:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. ET):

Read More: Twitter Scammers Used Elon Musk’s ‘SNL’ Appearance to Reap $100K

Oil was down 0.09%. Price per barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude: $64.78.Gold was in the green 0.35% and at $1,837 as of press time.Silver is falling, down 0.40% and changing hands at $27.32.The 10-year U.S. Treasury bond yield climbed Monday to 1.597 and in the green 0.57%.

The CoinDesk 20: The Assets That Matter Most to the Market


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