Bitcoin, Ether Gain Ground Ahead of Crypto Options ‘Witching’

Bitcoin and Ether climbed on Thursday, as investors braced themselves for an imminent wave of option expiries.

Bitcoin and Ether climbed on Thursday, as investors braced themselves for an imminent wave of option expiries. The largest cryptocurrency rose as much as 3.9% to $20,626, while Ether advanced as much as 5.8% to $1,108. The gains have come before Friday’s weekly options expiry, the current quarter’s last that also coincides with futures expiries “to produce the final ‘witching’ in the first half of 2022,” according to Genesis Global Trading.

“Options open interest on Deribit indicates over $2 billion in notional for Bitcoin and $1 billion for Ether options, making this the largest on-exchange expiry on the horizon by a wide margin (~39% and ~33% of total open interest on the exchange for BTC and ETH options respectively),” Ainsley To, Gordon Grant and Noelle Acheson of Genesis wrote in a note Wednesday.

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The Bitcoin options expiring on Friday are mostly puts for strikes around current price levels, with notional open interest concentrated around the $20,000 strike, Genesis said. For Ether, there is comparable concentration around the $1,000 strike — mostly in puts, the firm added.

Crypto markets are struggling to consolidate after declining precipitously in recent months as the Federal Reserve hiked interest rates to fight inflation. The collapse of the Terra/Luna ecosystem and continued concern about hedge fund Three Arrows Capital Ltd. have further rattled investors.

“Turbulence has returned to the cryptocurrency space as high inflation threatens the valuations of all risk assets, including equities,” Bitfinex analysts wrote in a note Wednesday. “As central banks continue to reverse previously accommodative policies, we can expect more volatility in the Bitcoin price.”

The upcoming expiration may potentially influence price action, particularly if Bitcoin and Ether are right around the levels with a high concentration of options.

“Both Bitcoin and Ether saw lows under $20,000 and $1,000 respectively over the weekend,” the Genesis report noted. “Though they have since recovered above those levels, the options market will be one to watch should prices remain close to these thresholds going into Friday.”