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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Cryptocurrencies extend drop as ‘tough environment’ culls demand

Logos for ethereum, left, binance and bitcoin are displayed on the shutters of a cryptocurrency exchange in Barcelona, Spain, on Sept. 8, 2022.  (Angel Garcia/Bloomberg )
By Vildana Hajric Bloomberg

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies slid on Friday as investors continued to bail from riskier assets following the Federal Reserve’s promise that it will stay aggressive in its fight against inflation.

The largest digital coin by market value fell as much as 3.7% during the session to trade around $18,538.

Ether, the second-largest, was down 4.7% at one point to $1,262, while an index of 100 of the largest coins lost 1.6%.

The mood in the market has remained sour as the Fed and other global central banks raise interest rates to fight sticky price increases.

The Fed delivered its third straight 75-basis point hike this week, and risk assets have taken a hit as Jerome Powell made it crystal clear that the central bank is going to keep raising rates sharply – until officials see signs that price pressures are easing.

“It’s going to be a tough environment for crypto,” Chris Gaffney, president of world markets at TIAA Bank, said in an interview.

“Sitting in an asset class that doesn’t earn you anything becomes very difficult, and the cost of owning crypto increases as interest rates increase because of alternatives.”

The crypto sector was already reeling from a $2 trillion plunge from a 2021 record high, an unraveling pockmarked with blowups such as the Three Arrows Capital hedge fund and the Terraform Labs project – whose co-founder Do Kwon is wanted by authorities.

“Macro continues to be a challenging theme, pressuring both crypto and equities as central banks still tighten in the quest to soften elevated inflation numbers,” crypto lender BlockFi wrote in a note.

Chart watchers, cognizant of how quickly crypto can tank, are looking at $17,599 as a key price level for bitcoin, should the token continue to post declines.

That’s the low it hit in June. After that, they’re watching $17,589 – should bitcoin hit that mark, it would touch its lowest point since the end of 2020.

Bitcoin’s dominance has waned in recent months amid the selloff.

That could be because it’s losing its appeal as an alternative store of value or because more value is being created elsewhere in the crypto ecosystem, according to a note from Charlie Erith of ByteTree Asset Management.

“Is bitcoin losing its appeal? It’s certainly taken some knocks,” Erith wrote.