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Bitcoin is in summer doldrums despite positive regulatory developments. What to expect in August.


Chalk it up to the summer doldrums, perhaps, but for weeks nothing has been able to make the bitcoin price budge and investors may be in for more of the same in August. There’s plenty to look forward to on the other side of the break, however. The largest cryptocurrency by market cap is on pace to finish July down about 3.5%, according to Coin Metrics, after surging 12% in June. In the latest week, bitcoin closed lower by 1.9%. That was its fifth straight weekly decline and worst week since June 9. Coin Metrics measures a week in crypto, which trades 24 hours a day, from the 4:00 p.m. ET stock market close one Friday to the next. The third quarter that ends Sept. 30 is also, historically, the weakest for bitcoin. The average third-quarter gain going back to 2014 is just 4.67%, according to CoinGecko, and it’s posted a positive third quarter in only four of the nine quarters since bitcoin’s inception. “August is a quiet month for traditional market investors and crypto is no different,” said Greg Cipolaro, global head of research at NYDIG, the crypto subsidiary of Stone Ridge Asset Management. “Historically, mean returns have waned as we go into the summer months and that may play out again in August.” But even with the latest downdraft, bitcoin is still up about 77% for the year, and investors are upbeat. There’s a good amount of potential upside for bitcoin thanks to the XRP ruling , legislation advancing in Congress, bitcoin ETF applications and the upcoming bitcoin halving in the spring of 2024. All that suggests bitcoin’s price in six months “is likely to be materially higher than it is today,” according to Ric Edelman, founder of the Digital Assets Council of Financial Professionals. More immediately, however, “It’s likely we’re going to see more treading water over the next several weeks, simply because no news is likely to emerge,” Edelman said. “[U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission chair] Gensler is not likely to change his public stance on crypto, the SEC is not likely to rule on the Bitcoin ETF applications, Congress is not likely to release major legislation. Yet all the signs toward those eventualities remain strong so everyone is in a waiting game and that will likely persist through the rest of the summer.” The outlook was bright to start July: In June, BlackRock filed an application to launch a spot bitcoin ETF, injecting new hope into the market. That was shortly after the SEC brought two lawsuits against Binance and Coinbase , which most market participants hoped would help force some regulatory clarity, as well as the long-awaited XRP ruling. Even as trading volumes and liquidity remain stuck, the industry is ending the month on a high note as well, now that Congress after this week has four crypto bills heading to a full House vote for the first time: the Financial Innovation and Technology for the 21st Century Act, the Blockchain Regulatory Certainty Act, the Clarity for Payment Stablecoins Act and the Keep Your Coins Act. Continued interest rate increases by central banks, most recently the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank , are giving investors added reason to add to their bitcoin positions, Edelman said. Bitcoin traded in tandem with tech stocks for nearly all of last year, but its correlation with the Nasdaq broke down this year as it returned to its status as a noncorrelated asset. The Fed this week hiked interest rates a quarter percentage point to their highest level in more than 22 years. Although policymakers indicated at their June meeting that two more rate hikes were to be expected this year, the majority of the market is anticipating the Fed is finished tightening. “As the markets continue to express uncertainty about whether or not there will be a recession or a correction in the stock market, investors are looking for ways they could hedge their diversified portfolios,” Edelman said. “Investors are unlikely to find bargains, meaning that there is more argument for significant increases coming than significant decreases,” he added. “There’s not a lot of reason for worry that bitcoin prices might fall 20% or more. That argues for adding to your positions today.” –CNBC’s Gina Francolla contributed reporting.

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