Singapore — Bitcoin retreated further from the $40,000 level on Monday, a decline that could portend more losses based on the latest analysis from strategists at JPMorgan Chase.

The cryptocurrency could be hurt by an exodus of trend-after investors unless it can “break out” above $40,000 soon, a team including Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou said. The pattern of demand for bitcoin futures and the $22.9bn Grayscale bitcoin Trust will help determine the outlook, they added.

“The flow into the Grayscale bitcoin Trust would likely need to sustain its $100m per day pace over the coming days and weeks for such a breakout to occur,” the strategists wrote in a note on Friday.

Traders seeking clues about investor appetite for risk have been gripped by bitcoin’s stunning rally and turbulent 12% slide from a record of almost $42,000 on January 8. The cryptocurrency boom since March has reflected the ebullience of financial markets awash in stimulus — as well as concern over whether gains will ultimately prove fleeting.

The JPMorgan strategists said bitcoin was in a similar position in late November, except with $20,000 as the test. Flows of institutional investment into the Grayscale trust helped the world’s largest cryptocurrency extend its rally, they wrote.

Trend-after traders “could propagate the past week’s correction” and “momentum signals will naturally decay from here up till the end of March” if Bitcoin’s price fails to break above $40,000, they said.

Bitcoin dipped about 1.5% to $35,963 in London on Monday. Ether, another popular digital coin, shed 3.5% to $1,219.

Exactly what’s driven the year-long near-quadrupling in bitcoin’s price remains murky. Commentators have cited day traders, wealthy buyers, hedge funds, companies and even signs of interest from long-term investors such as insurers.

‘Dread to think’

Some, like Chris Iggo, remain sceptical of bitcoin’s appeal to large institutions.

“I dread to think what most risk officers would think about that being in a core investment portfolio,” the chief investment officer of core investments at Axa Investment Managers wrote in a note.

“For assets to be considered in a long-term investment portfolio one should be able to attach some fundamental intrinsic value to them.”

Bitcoin’s proponents argue it’s maturing as a hedge for dollar weakness and the possibility of faster inflation in a recovering global economy. Others say its defining characteristic remains speculative booms followed by busts.



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