Traders wound up their long Bitcoin derivatives contracts ahead of the October price rally, ignoring solid on-chain fundamentals.
Retail investors reduced their long exposure across the Bitcoin futures and options markets in late September, according to data shared by Ecoinometrics. The amount of open short positions also climbed, indicating that derivative traders anticipated Bitcoin’s price to drop, as shown in the chart below.
The data was taken on Sept. 28, when BTC price had fallen below $41,000 on Coinbase — down almost 23% from its month-to-date high near $52,950. The drop surfaced in the aftermath of China’s decision to ban all kinds of crypto transactions.
“Most likely, this dip is due to a mix of traders not rolling their long positions to the October contract and some outright liquidating when BTC looked like it was going to drop below $40k last week,” said Nick, an analyst at Ecoinometrics.
“Regardless, the overall picture is that the futures traders lack conviction.”
“That’s paper hands 101,” the analyst noted.
Institutional investors in the CME Bitcoin futures market also followed retail sentiment as they reduced their long exposure in the market. But, on the other hand, their short positions climbed.
With CME options traders convinced that Bitcoin price would drop, the number of puts — an implicitly bearish bet on Bitcoin’s price — turned out to be almost twice the size of the calls, or bets on potential Bitcoin price gains.
Traders’ position distribution made $40,000 the most sought-after strike price target.
On the other hand, some options traders bet that the spot Bitcoin price would hit $60,000 by the end of October. Additionally, analyst Crypto Hedger highlighted that Bitcoin options expiring on Nov. 26 show bulls’ sentiment skewed toward the $80,000-strike target.
“At this current growth pace, Bitcoin has formed very strong support at the $50,000 price point, and short-term traders may also need to watch out for the key resistance level around $56,000,” said Konstantin Anissimov, executive director of CEX.IO, adding:
“A break below or above these levels can stir another cataclysmic price reversal or a massive run toward $60,000 in Q4.”
Bitcoin supply squeeze in play
On-chain data shared by Ecoinometrics also showed a higher level of Bitcoin withdrawals from all the crypto exchanges.
In detail, Bitcoin’s 30-day net exchange flow has been rising since July 2020, as noted in the color-coded chart below, with blue and red indicating extreme outflow and inflow, respectively.
Ecoinometrics noted that the amount of Bitcoin currently leaving exchanges is higher than it was in the previous four-year halving cycles.
Meanwhile, traders see the reduction in Bitcoin’s supply on exchanges, with increasing “hodling” activity, as further catalysts for a liquidity crisis and more price upside.
“Back then there were indeed periods of net outflows but in terms of size they look much less dramatic than what we have right now,” Ecoinometrics highlighted, adding:
“That’s another sign that we are on course for a liquidity crisis which could drive Bitcoin’s value much higher than it is right now.”
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