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Ethereum's spot setup looks grim, but derivatives data tells a different story


22 Sep 2021

#Ethereum

Ether price is stuck in a rut, but derivatives data shows pro traders are bullish even with ETH below $3,000. Ether (ETH) price fell below the $3,000 support on Sept. 20 as global markets entered a risk-aversion mode. The Invesco China Technology ETF (CQQQ) closed down 4.2%, while the SPDR S&P Metals and Mining ETF (XME) lost 3.8%. Some analysts pointed to the potential ripple effects of the default of Evergrande, a major Chinese real estate company. In contrast, others blame the ongoing debates over the debt limit in Washington as the catalyst for this week's volatility. As a result, the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), usually referred to as the "stock market fear index," jumped by more than 30% to reach its highest level since May.

On Sept.19, United States Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called for Congress to raise the U.S. debt ceiling again in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. Yellen suggested that avoiding this would risk causing the government to default on payments and generate a "widespread economic catastrophe."

One of the major focuses for traditional markets is this week's U.S. Federal Open Market Committee meeting, which ends on Sept. 22. At the meeting, the Federal Reserve is expected to signal when it will cut back its $120 billion monthly asset purchase program.

How these events impact Ether price

Even though the $3,000 level sits near the bottom range of the previous performance of the past 45 days, Ether still accumulated 210% gains in 2021. The network's adjusted total value locked (TVL) jumped from $13 billion in 2020 to $60 billion and the decentralized finance (DeFi), gaming and nonfungible token (NFT) sectors experienced an impressive surge while Ethereum maintained dominance of the sector's market share.

Despite mean gas fees surpassing $20 in September, Ethereum has kept roughly 60% of the decentralized exchange (DEX) volume. Its largest competitor, Binance Smart Chain, held an average daily volume slightly below $1 billion, albeit having a transaction fee below $0.40.

Ether futures data shows pro traders are still bullish

Ether's quarterly futures are the preferred instruments of whales and arbitrage desks due to their settlement date and the price difference from spot markets. However, the contract's biggest advantage is the lack of a fluctuating funding rate. These fixed-month contracts usually trade at a slight premium to spot markets, indicating that sellers request more money to withhold settlement longer. Therefore, futures should trade at a 5% to 15% annualized premium in healthy markets. This situation is technically defined as "contango" and is not exclusive to crypto markets.

As displayed above, Ether's futures contracts premium spiked to 15% on Sept. 6 as ETH price tested the $4,000 resistance. Apart from that brief overshot, the basis indicator ranged from 8% to 12% over the past month, considered healthy and bullish.

The crash to sub-$3,000 in the early hours of Sept. 21 was not enough to scare seasoned traders. More importantly, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Gary Gensler's interview on cryptocurrency regulation also had no noticeable impact on Ether price. Had there been a generalized fear, Ether futures premium would have reflected this.


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