Bitcoin derivatives data reflects traders’ mixed feelings below $17,000

Bitcoin derivatives data reflects traders’ mixed feelings below $17,000


Bitcoin (BTC) lost 25.4% in 48 hours, bottoming at $15,590 on Nov. 9 as investors rushed to exit positions after the second largest cryptocurrency exchange, FTX, halted withdrawals. More importantly, the sub $17,000 levels were last seen almost two years prior, and the fear of contagion became evident.

The move liquidated $285 million worth of leverage long (bull) positions, leading some traders to predict a potential downside of $13,800.

As described by independent market analyst jaydee_757, the bearish trend continues to exert its pressure, with $17,200 as a resistance level. Still, such an analysis provides no guarantee that the ultimate $13,800 bottom will be hit.

Curiously, the price action coincided with improving conditions for global equity markets on Oct. 4, as the S&P 500 index gained 6.4% between Nov. 10 and Nov. 11 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rallied 9.5%. Hence, at least from a technical perspective, Bitcoin completely decoupled from traditional finance.

Additional uncertainty on Bitcoin has been brought on by Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) trading on over-the-counter stock markets after the $11.4 billion fund discount to its assets surpassed 40%.

As noted by Vance Spencer, the implied BTC price according to the funds’ trading is below $9,000, and pressure should continue if some holders use their shares as collateral for loans.

Still, the negative sentiment that caused Bitcoin to break below $20,000 does not mean professional investors are bearish at the current price levels.

Margin traders did not close their longs

Monitoring margin and options markets provide excellent insight into how professional traders are positioned, allowing investors to borrow cryptocurrency to leverage their trading position.

For instance, one can increase exposure by borrowing stablecoins to buy an additional Bitcoin position. On the other hand, Bitcoin borrowers can only short the cryptocurrency as they bet on its price declining. Unlike futures contracts, the balance between margin longs and shorts isn’t always matched.

OKX USDT/BTC margin lending ratio. Source: OKX

The above chart shows that OKX traders’ margin lending ratio has increased from Nov. 8 to Nov. 10, signaling traders did not close their leverage longs despite the 25.4% price correction.

Furthermore, the metric continues to favor stablecoin borrowing by a wide margin, indicating traders have been holding bullish positions.

Option markets flipped bearish

Traders should scan options markets to understand whether Bitcoin can reclaim the $18,500 support. The 25% delta skew is a telling sign whenever arbitrage desks and market makers are overcharging for upside or downside protection.

The indicator compares similar call (buy) and put (sell) options and will turn positive when fear is prevalent because the protective put options premium is higher than risk call options.

The skew indicator will move above 10% if traders fear a Bitcoin price crash. On the other hand, generalized excitement reflects a negative 10% skew.

Bitcoin 60-day options 25% delta skew: Source: Laevitas

As displayed above, the 25% delta skew had been below 10% since Oct. 26, but it quickly moved above that threshold on Nov. 8, suggesting options traders were pricing a higher risk of unexpected price dumps.

Whenever this metric stands above 10%, it signals that traders are fearful and reflects a lack of interest in offering downside protection.

Related: Crypto.com’s CRO is in trouble, but a 50% price rebound is in play

FUD dismissal does not happen overnight

Despite the bearish Bitcoin options indicator, the OKX margin lending rate showed whales and market makers maintaining bullish bets. The contagion fear might explain the mixed feeling as investors struggle to interpret recent movements by the Crypto.com exchange, including an “accidental” transfer of 320,000 Ether (ETH) to Gate.io.

Analyst Holger Zschaepitz’s post describes investors’ current sentiment as unwilling to take risks on centralized exchanges offering similar products and services from the now-bankrupt FTX.

Consequently, derivatives are reflecting low confidence in regaining the $18,500 support until more data shows that the cryptocurrency ecosystem’s liquidity has been restored.