Big month for Bitcoin

Bitcoin and Ether, the world’s two largest digital tokens, are headed toward their best month since 2021 amid a revival of risk appetite in global markets and optimism about an Ethereum network upgrade.

Bitcoin is up 26% in July and Ether 65%, though their rallies paused Friday. Bitcoin was down 2% to trade at $23,538 as of 9:34 a.m. in New York and Ether was hovering around $1,672.

A US economic slowdown is leading investors to the view that the Federal Reserve will be done raising rates by year-end and might pivot to cutting borrowing costs in 2023, creating a more favorable liquidity backdrop for speculative assets.

“Signs the Fed may be nearing the end of their hiking cycle have lifted all risk assets, and crypto has also benefited,” said Cici Lu, chief executive officer at consulting firm Venn Link Partners. “Liquidation of leveraged positions seems to be over,” she added, and “markets may have found the bottom.”

Cryptocurrencies are trying to recover from a rout this year that’s wiped more than 50% off the MVIS CryptoCompare Digital Assets 100 index. Earlier this year, virtual coins were buffeted by the Fed’s shift to monetary tightening and ensuing leveraged blowups, such as crypto hedge-fund Three Arrows Capital.

Meanwhile, the Ethereum blockchain is due to move to a more energy-efficient so-called proof-of-stake system. That’s been a tailwind of late for its native token, Ether. The virtual coin could push toward $1,915 to $2,000 in the days ahead, according to Mark Newton, head of technical strategy at Fundstrat.

“Ethereum looks more attractive technically than Bitcoin in the short run, so pullbacks into mid-August should be buyable,” he said.

Still, cryptocurrencies were under pressure at the end of the week as two key US inflation gauges on Friday posted larger-than-forecast increases, adding to worries that prices will remain persistently high for longer than expected. Elsewhere, US Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler said he is stepping up his push to get crypto trading platforms to register with the Wall Street regulator.

Joe DiPasquale, CEO of BitBull Capital, said he’ll be watching to see where Bitcoin closes out the month and whether it retests key supports around $19,000 to $20,000. “Successful bounces from that range could give bulls a solid foundation for a continued rally,” he said.