April 15, 2024

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Next FOMC meeting: May 1st 2024

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Hong Kong Advances as Crypto Hub with Approval of Multiple Spot Bitcoin and Ether ETFs

Hong Kong has taken significant steps toward becoming a regional crypto hub by approving several spot Bitcoin and Ether exchange-traded funds (ETFs) on Monday. Major Chinese asset manager China Asset Management, through its Hong Kong unit, received approval in principle to offer retail asset management services related to spot crypto ETFs, planning to issue them in collaboration with OSL and BOCI International. Harvest Global Investments and Bosera Asset Management, alongside HashKey Capital, also announced in-principle and conditional approvals for their respective spot crypto ETFs, which are set to enhance investment opportunities and reinforce Hong Kong's status as an international financial center and hub for virtual assets. This move starkly contrasts with the broader crackdown on cryptocurrencies in mainland China and aligns with Hong Kong's supportive regulatory framework for crypto firms, including a crypto licensing regime initiated in June 2023. These developments highlight Hong Kong's strategic steps to attract more investors to the burgeoning crypto market, particularly with Ethereum-based products that lack alternative investment opportunities comparable to Bitcoin's indirect exposure through related stocks.

Berachain Raises $100 Million in Series B Funding to Boost Global Expansion and Develop Proof of Liquidity Blockchain

Berachain, a developer of a Layer 1 blockchain, has secured $100 million in a Series B funding round co-led by Framework Ventures and BH Digital’s Abu Dhabi branch, aiming to bolster its global expansion particularly in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. The round saw contributions from various high-profile investors, including Polychain Capital, Samsung Next, and Animoca Brands’ Yat Siu, among others. This funding follows a $42 million raise from a private token round in April 2023. Berachain, which is built on the Cosmos SDK and supports Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), uses a unique "proof of liquidity" consensus mechanism. It plans to use the Series B funds to enhance its testnet that has already processed over 100 million transactions. Berachain has introduced its own tokens within its ecosystem, including BGT for governance, BERA for transaction fees, and the HONEY stablecoin, which is pegged to USD.

After Iranian Drone Attack, Bitcoin Demonstrates Resilience with Market Dominance Reaching a Three-Year High

Following a significant geopolitical event where the Israeli military reported an Iranian drone attack, cryptocurrency prices, including Bitcoin and Ethereum, witnessed a sharp decline. Despite this immediate selloff, Bitcoin notably recovered, increasing its dominance over other cryptocurrencies to its highest in three years at nearly 53% of the market, according to The Block's data. This rebound highlights Bitcoin's role as a perceived inflation hedge amidst uncertain macroeconomic conditions, particularly as its halving event approaches, enhancing its appeal relative to other digital currencies.

Trading Desk Insights

Bitcoin endured a tumultuous weekend, plummeting 15% since Friday. This steep decline was spurred by profit-taking in anticipation of the upcoming Bitcoin halving and broader macroeconomic uncertainties. This activity triggered a wave of liquidations, with over $2 billion in futures positions cleared over the weekend—a level not seen since March. Open interest in Bitcoin futures fell by $3.3 billion, reflecting a significant reduction in market bets.

For Bitcoin prices to re-enter bullish territory, they need to break through the resistance at the $67,000 to $68,000 range. Despite a sharp rebound from $60,750 to a session peak of $66,750 this morning, the market is now testing these critical resistance levels.

The ETF market also showed some churn, with a net outflow of $55.1 million on Friday. Notably, Blackrock and Grayscale reported mixed movements, with inflows of $111.1 million and outflows of $166.2 million respectively.

In the altcoin sector, meme coins and AI-linked tokens have outperformed, buoyed by recent gains. Solana has released an update, version 1.17.31, aimed at addressing network congestion exacerbated by the popularity of meme coins which spiked user engagement and heightened network demand.

In Hong Kong, several asset managers announced approvals to list spot Bitcoin and Ethereum ETFs ahead of an official statement from the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), sparking speculation about enhanced institutional interest during Asian trading hours.

In the UK, forthcoming legislation on stablecoins, crypto staking, exchanges, and custody is expected by mid-year, aligning with the nation's ambition to establish itself as a global cryptocurrency hub. This follows last year's regulatory framework that recognized cryptocurrencies and stablecoins as legitimate financial activities.

In other financial news, U.S. stock futures have seen an uptick this Monday, bouncing back from last week’s downturn buoyed by robust earnings from Goldman Sachs, encouraging retail data, and hopes for de-escalation in Middle Eastern tensions. Despite Iran's recent drone and missile strikes on Israel, the immediate geopolitical risk appears contained, though the potential for retaliation lingers.

Gold futures have marginally increased, trading at $2,450, maintaining near-record levels as investors turn to safe havens amid persistent inflation and geopolitical unrest. Meanwhile, Tesla's stock faces pressure following reports that the company plans to cut over 10% of its global workforce.

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Any forecasts contained herein are for illustrative purposes only and are not to be relied upon as advice or interpreted as a recommendation. The price of crypto assets may rise or fall because of changes in the broad market or changes in a company's financial condition, sometimes rapidly or unpredictably. Past performance is not a guide to future performance, future returns are not guaranteed, and a loss of original capital may occur. Fluctuations in exchange rates could have adverse effects on the value or price of, or income derived from, certain investments. We and our affiliates, officers, directors, and employees, excluding equity and credit analysts, will from time to time have long or short positions in, act as principal in, and buy or sell, the securities or derivatives, if any, referred to in this research.

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