Bitcoin steadied Tuesday after flirting with a bear market in a plunge that left investors grasping for clues about what lies ahead for the world’s largest cryptocurrency.
The digital coin rose as much as 8% to about $36,600, but the move higher pales compared to the gyrations that took Bitcoin to an all-time high of nearly $42,000 on Jan. 8 before a precipitous slump over Sunday and Monday.
The latest bout of roller-coaster volatility recalls past boom and bust cycles including the 2017 bubble, and has investors debating whether this is a healthy correction or the end of the latest bull run for cryptocurrencies.
“We think a pull back is healthy,” said David Grider, lead digital strategist with Fundstrat Global Advisors LLC, who added he doesn’t think the recent price action indicates that Bitcoin has already topped out.
Investors who bought the digital coin a year ago are still sitting on gains exceeding 300%. Pinpointing who is mainly responsible for the rally is one of the many crypto mysteries — Bitcoin funds, momentum chasers, billionaires, day traders, companies and even institutional investors have all been cited.
Just as hard is working out what caused the recent two-day drop of as much as 26%. For some, a bounce in the dollar may be among the reasons. The greenback has snapped a prolonged losing streak after rising U.S. government bond yields bolstered its allure.
“The dollar is showing strength,” said Vijay Ayyar, head of business development with crypto exchange Luno in Singapore.
Ayyar is monitoring what happens if the U.S. Dollar Index climbs to 92 from the current level of about 90. “If the dollar powers through that level then we may have seen a Bitcoin top at $40,000,” he said.
At the same time, the world remains awash with monetary and fiscal stimulus, and some of that wall of money could yet gravitate to crypto assets.
Bitcoin believers continue to tout the digital currency as a viable hedge for inflation risk and the potential debasement of fiat currencies. Some forecasts for its long-term price range from $146,000 to $400,000.
“As long as the world is flooded with money and safe assets offer poor compensation, Bitcoin will be relevant,” Howard Wang, co-founder of Convoy Investments LLC, wrote in a Jan. 10 note. “Volatility and asset bubbles will be a fact of life.”