- Australia's monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) rises to 5.2%.
- Microsoft: ‘Huge’ leak of documents reveals plans for crypto wallets.
- XRP and SOL product inflows surge as investors gain confidence.
- Ambitious project ‘Libbitcoinkernel’ aims to untangle Bitcoin’s code.
- Crypto bills could be delayed due to potential US government shutdown.
BTC Markets in the news
CEO Caroline Bowler on Decoding Crypto.
In an insightful conversation, our CEO Caroline Bowler sat down with Ed Stott from Decoding Crypto to discuss some crucial aspects of the crypto world.
She reiterated that BTC Markets takes a firm stance against crypto scams and highlights the prevalence of the US dollar in money laundering, underlining the need for regulatory clarity.
Tune in here to listen to the full interview on Decoding Crypto for a deep dive into these discussions.
State of crypto
- Feds hawkish stance impacts risk-on trading sentiment.
- Bitcoin continues to trade below the 50-day moving average.
- Crypto market sentiment re-enters the fear zone.
- Solana continues its positive streak, gaining 2.92% on the week.
The crypto markets have been closely monitoring guidance from the Federal Reserve and other central banks. The recent pause in Fed policy, leaning toward a more hawkish stance, has adversely affected risk-on trading sentiment. With fewer significant macroeconomic events scheduled for this week, there may be reduced catalysts, potentially leading to decreased market volatility as the month concludes.
Bitcoin faced challenges in maintaining positive momentum for a second consecutive week, entering a phase of price consolidation amid prevailing bearish sentiment across the broader financial markets.
On the daily chart, Bitcoin continues to trade below the 50-day moving average which suggests a continued bearish sentiment as recent price action signals consolidation amid broader market uncertainties.
The sentiment in the crypto market has declined to a reading of 46, entering the Fear Zone. Despite a positive start, September has seen bearish price action, currently showing a modest +1.17% gain on the monthly chart. But can it close in the green? Only time will tell.
From a historical perspective, Bitcoin's performance during the month of September has been less than impressive. The most recent instance of Bitcoin concluding the month of September with a positive return, dates to 2016 when it recorded a gain of 6.25%. During that period, Bitcoin opened at US$573, signifying an impressive price appreciation of 4,283% to date.
The weekly close.
Assessing the recent performance of major cryptocurrencies during the last trading week*, Bitcoin closed the week at US$26,248.38, marking a 1.05% decline, while Ethereum followed suit with a 2.57% decrease to conclude at US$1,580.71. XRP notably broke through resistance levels, ending the week at US$0.5021 with a 1.95% gain. Litecoin registered a modest 0.05% gain, reaching US$63.58, and Cardano saw a 1.78% decline, closing at US$0.2427. In contrast, Solana continued its positive streak, closing at US$19.36 and posting a notable 2.92% weekly increase.
Bitcoin's dominance maintained its upward trend with a 0.05% rise, sustaining a 50.01% dominance rate. Overall, the broader cryptocurrency market experienced a 1.09% loss, resulting in a total market capitalisation of US$1.023 trillion.
Year-to-date in the crypto space.
So far this year, the cryptocurrency market has experienced a wide range of price fluctuations. Solana (SOL) has demonstrated remarkable strength in the face of adversity, with a substantial 92.78% surge, while Bitcoin (BTC) is up 59.75%. XRP (XRP) has gained 47.77%, Ethereum (ETH) has risen by 33.85%, and Cardano (ADA) experienced a minor setback, down 0.33%. However, Litecoin (LTC) continues to face selling pressure seeing an annual decline of 9.25%.
*The weekly trading stats as of Monday, September 25th at 10:00 am AEST, based on data from Tradingview in USD.
**Year -to-date performance as of Thursday, September 28th at 10:00 am AEST, based on data from Tradingview in USD.
‘Huge’ leak of internal Microsoft documents reveals plans for crypto wallets.
Leaked internal documents from tech giant Microsoft posted to the Resetera gaming forum this week show an Xbox roadmap that includes support for crypto wallets. The huge leak has been blamed on documents related to the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) lawsuit to block Microsoft's US$69 billion bid for Activision Blizzard being uploaded before being redacted.
According to a report from The Verge, unredacted documents in the FTC’s case against Microsoft included an Xbox roadmap from May 2022 that detailed plans to integrate a cryptocurrency wallet into the next version of the console.
The leak has been called the “biggest in Xbox history” because unredacted emails like this don’t usually appear in the public domain. Xbox chief Phil Spencer emailed Microsoft employees about the leak last Tuesday, saying the plans “were unintentionally disclosed” as part of the FTC v. Microsoft case.
Spencer also addressed the leak on X (formerly Twitter), saying:
“We’ve seen the conversation around old emails and documents. It is hard to see our team’s work shared in this way because so much has changed and there’s so much to be excited about right now and in the future. We will share the real plans when we are ready.”
While the leak made the plans more official in the eyes of the public, rumours have been circulating for years that Microsoft and its competitors like Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google were planning to add support for cryptocurrencies in the future as blockchain technology adoption grows.
The recent flurry of spot Bitcoin ETF applications by some of the world’s largest asset managers, along with banks like JPMorgan and Citi announcing plans to launch blockchain-based deposit tokens, seems to have reignited interest in digital asset integration. Microsoft is also rumoured to be working on incorporating a non-custodial Ethereum (ETH) wallet into its Edge browser, but details on that development, including a potential release date, are still to be confirmed.
Crypto sees outflows for 6th consecutive week, XRP and SOL gain investor confidence.
Crypto investment products registered their sixth consecutive week of outflows for the week ending September 24th. According to a report from CoinShares, digital asset outflows from crypto investment products reached US$9 million last week.
Bitcoin registered a third consecutive week of outflows, reaching US$6 million in the past week. Short Bitcoin positions saw outflows of US$2.8 million. ETH registered its sixth consecutive week of outflows, with US$2.2 million exiting over the past week.
On the other hand, altcoins such as XRP and Solana have seen inflows of US$660,000 and US$31,000 respectively. The report stated that investors are getting more interested in the altcoin space, with continued inflows into XRP and SOL.
According to the latest report from CoinShares, the past week alone saw US$700,000 poured into XRP-related products. This surge marks a 700% increase in inflows into XRP Exchange Traded Products (ETPs) within the week. While XRP has stolen the spotlight, other cryptocurrencies have not been left entirely in the shadows. Solana (SOL) and Litecoin (LTC) also witnessed noteworthy inflows into their respective ETPs over the past week.
However, the broader crypto investment product market tells a different story. It marked its sixth consecutive week of outflows, with a cumulative total of US$9.1 million exiting the market. CoinShares report also revealed weekly trading volumes dropped below US$820 million - well below the average of US$1.16 billion in 2023. Since the start of the year, the outflow tally stands at a significant US$125.5 million.
The report revealed a divergence in sentiment among traders in Europe and the United States based on regional activities. European crypto investment products had US$16 million in inflows, but US-based products saw US$14 million in outflows. The regional divergence was attributed to the uncertainty around the crypto regulations and recent actions of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) against crypto companies.
Ambitious project ‘Libbitcoinkernel’ aims to untangle Bitcoin’s code.
A ‘marathon’ of a project, named Libbitcoinkernel, is currently underway to simplify and untangle Bitcoin’s code to make it easier for developers to experiment with changes to the cryptocurrency. The goal of the project is to extract the “security-critical” code from the rest of Bitcoin Core’s code, which is the software that underlies Bitcoin. By doing so, developers will have a clearer path to create new features and improvements for Bitcoin.
Libbitcoinkernel is being developed as a library that developers can use to enhance Bitcoin. Although it is primarily geared towards developers, the project could have wider implications for the Bitcoin community. The project aims to provide a technical solution to some of the social challenges faced by Bitcoin Core and to make it easier for developers to implement changes.
The main purpose of Libbitcoinkernel is to extract the “consensus” code from the rest of Bitcoin Core. Consensus code is critical for maintaining agreement among all nodes in the network. Untangling this code and isolating it into a separate library will make it easier for developers to work on other aspects of Bitcoin’s code without the need to navigate around security-critical code.
Furthermore, Libbitcoinkernel aims to enable the development of multiple Bitcoin clients, in addition to Bitcoin Core. This would provide more options for users and developers, allowing them to experiment with new features. Multiple implementations could also increase the resiliency of the network and enhance the decentralisation of Bitcoin.
The project was initially spearheaded by Bitcoin developer Carl Dong, but he has since stepped back and handed over the reins to other developers. Sebastian Kung, a developer backed by Spiral, and Cory Fields, a veteran Bitcoin Core contributor, are among those continuing the work.
Libbitcoinkernel is expected to take multiple release cycles to complete, it is considered a marathon project that requires careful and iterative progress. Developers have already made significant contributions on GitHub, but there is much more work to be done.
Buy Bitcoin on BTC Markets.
Ethereum’s Shanghai upgrade has been ‘disappointing,’ JPMorgan says.
Ethereum's Shanghai upgrade, implemented in April, does not appear to have increased activity on the world's largest smart contract blockchain as many had hoped for, JPMorgan said in a research report released on Thursday.
“While the shift from proof-of-work (PoW) to proof-of-stake (PoS) that resulted from the Merge upgrade meant that the energy consumption for the Ethereum network collapsed by more than 99%, the ether supply is shrinking and staking rose sharply, the increase in network activity has been rather disappointing,” analysts led by Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, MD at JPMorgan, wrote.
The bank notes that Ethereum's daily transaction count has fallen 12% since the Shanghai upgrade, daily active addresses have dropped nearly 20%, and the total value locked (TVL) in decentralised finance (DeFi) on the blockchain has slumped almost 8%.
The Merge took place in September 2022 and involved transitioning from a more energy-intensive PoW to the PoS consensus mechanism. The Shanghai upgrade took place in April this year and enabled the withdrawal of staked ether (stETH). DeFi is an umbrella term used for lending, trading and other financial activities carried out on a blockchain. TVL is the total value of crypto assets deposited in a DeFi protocol.
The fall in network activity suggests that the “bearish forces” of the past year, which include the collapse of Terra and FTX, the US regulatory crackdown, and a shrinking stablecoin universe, have potentially outweighed the positive impact from the Shanghai upgrade, the bank said.
There is more hope of a material increase in the Ethereum network activity with the upcoming EIP-4844 upgrade or Protodanksharding, the report added, but “continued bearish crypto forces remain a headwind.” The Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP)-4844, or Protodanksharding, is planned for the fourth quarter of this year.
Buy ETH now on BTC Markets.
The week ahead: upcoming economic events
September 29th: France’s Inflation Rate. Euro Area Inflation Rate. Italy’s Inflation Rate. United States (US) Core PCE Price Index, Personal Spending MoM and Personal Income MoM.
September 30th: China’s NBS Manufacturing PMI.
October 1st: China’s Caixin Manufacturing PMI.
October 2nd: Japan’s Tankan Large Manufacturers Index.
October 3rd: US ISM Manufacturing PMI. Reserve Bank of Australia Interest Rate Decision.
October 4th: US JOLTs Job Openings.
October 5th: US ISM Services PMI. Australia’s Balance of Trade. Germany’s Balance of Trade.
- Australian monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) surged by 5.2%.
- Heightened likelihood of a rate hike by the RBA in November.
- Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) decreased, signalling contraction.
- The Services PMI improved, indicating service sector expansion.
- Rise in composite PMI, which reflects overall economic activity.
In August, the Australian monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) surged by 5.2% over the year, slightly surpassing market expectations of 5.1%. This marked a significant uptick from the previous month of July, which had seen the lowest level of CPI increase in 17 months, registering 4.9%.
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has adopted a data-dependent approach following a series of 12 interest rate hikes since May 2022, bringing rates to 4.1%. Over the past three meetings, the RBA has opted for a pause, which aligns with a moderation in consumer price growth. In response to the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) data, both the Australian dollar and the yields on policy-sensitive three-year bonds exhibited minimal fluctuations.
The upcoming Bank of Australia (RBA) board meeting, led by Michele Bullock, will be closely watched by the market, with a heightened likelihood of a rate hike in the near term, potentially in November, according to some economists.
In September, the Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) decreased, signalling a contraction in the manufacturing sector compared to August. Conversely, the Services PMI improved, indicating expansion in the services sector, whilst the Composite PMI, which reflects overall economic activity, rose. This indicates an improvement in the country's economic conditions when compared to the previous month. These contrasting trends suggest a nuanced economic environment in Australia, with the services sector showing resilience while manufacturing faces challenges.
- JPMorgan CEO warns 7% interest rates could spark economic crisis.
- Has the US Federal Reserve's tightening cycle reached its peak?
- Japan's annual inflation rate declined to 3.2% in August.
- Germany’s manufacturing PMI edges higher in September.
- Bank of England maintains its policy interest rate at 5.25%.
Amid efforts by the US government to reach an agreement aimed at averting a government shutdown after October 1st, JPMorgan's CEO, Jamie Dimon, has expressed concerns about the readiness of the global economy to cope with U.S. interest rates reaching 7%. Such a scenario, he argues, could potentially push the U.S. economy into a recession and trigger risk aversion in financial markets.
The U.S. Federal Reserve has been gradually raising benchmark interest rates since March 2022, with a total increase of 525 basis points to the 5.25%-5.5% range, primarily to combat inflation. Dimon suggests that further rate hikes may be necessary to control persistent inflation, and he believes that the impact on the global economy could be more significant than anticipated.
A U.S. recession, particularly one accompanied by stagflation or sustained high inflation and unemployment, could have adverse effects on risk assets like technology stocks and cryptocurrencies.
Additionally, it could drive U.S. Treasury yields to multi-decade highs, making bonds more appealing and diverting capital away from riskier investments. These remarks by Dimon challenge the prevailing belief that the Federal Reserve's tightening cycle has reached its peak, as the central bank indicates a commitment to maintaining higher borrowing costs for an extended period.
The so-called liquidity tightening cycle could be attributed to the downturn in risk on assets. "Going from zero to 2% was almost no increase. Going from zero to 5% caught some people off guard, but no one would have taken 5% out of the realm of possibility," Dimon said, during an interview with the Times of India. "If they are going to have lower volumes and higher rates, there will be stress in the system," Dimon added.
Besides, continued tightening would lift the already elevated U.S. Treasury yields to multi-decade highs. Bonds already look most attractive since 2009, threatening to drain capital from risk on investments. Dimon's comments contradict the popular view that the Fed's tightening cycle has peaked.
Simon Doyle, CEO and CIO of Schroders in Australia, highlights concern about the resilience of equity markets in the face of surging bond yields, drawing parallels to the period just before the global financial crisis. The VIX volatility index, known as the "fear index," has surged, and major indices like the S&P 500 have experienced significant declines.
While Doyle believes yields may not rise significantly further due to high levels of debt, he anticipates a period of bond yields fluctuating between 4.5% and 5.5%. This scenario poses challenges for equities, especially if earnings decline amid sticky interest rates.
Nonetheless, Doyle suggests that investors can find opportunities in this environment, emphasising the importance of diversification and considering income-producing assets like government and corporate credit, as well as alternative asset classes.
Finally, new orders for manufactured durable goods in the US unexpectedly increased compared to the previous month. This followed a significant decline in July and surpassed market expectations.
In August, Japan's annual inflation rate declined to 3.2% from the previous month's 3.3%, marking a three-month low, with varying price shifts in sectors such as food, housing, and transport. Meanwhile, fuel and utility charges continued their seven-month decline. Core inflation held steady at 3.1%, slightly above market consensus but remaining outside the Bank of Japan's 2% target.
In its September meeting, the Bank of Japan (BoJ) unanimously maintained its -0.1% short-term interest rate and the 10-year bond yield target of around 0%, while retaining a 50-basis-point allowance band and a 1.0% cap. The BoJ pledged to continue monetary easing to achieve sustainable 2% price stability with wage increases, signalling a potential end to negative interest rates based on wage data, amid high economic uncertainties.
The HCOB Germany Manufacturing PMI edged higher in September, slightly above market forecasts. Still, the reading continued to point to a deep contraction in the manufacturing sector, with production falling the most since May 2020 amid low demand. New orders continued to fall particularly sharply, although the rate of decline was the weakest for three months.
Meanwhile, workforce numbers fell slightly for the third month running and factory gate charges decreased for the fourth month and at the joint-quickest rate since September 2009. Also, purchasing costs fell the least since April as business sentiment weakened further.
In September, the Ifo Business Climate indicator experienced a slight decrease compared to the revised August level but exceeded market expectations. This decline marked the fifth consecutive month of deteriorating sentiment among companies, driven by reduced satisfaction with their current business situations compared to the previous month. However, there was a slight improvement in their outlook for the coming months.
The consumer climate indicator dropped to its lowest level since April, missing the market forecast. This decline was attributed to a significant increase in the propensity to save, reaching its highest level since April 2011, while income expectations and the propensity to buy remained weak. However, the economic sentiment sub-index saw a slight improvement. These results suggest that a consumer sentiment recovery in 2023 is becoming less likely due to persistent high inflation, potentially impacting overall economic development negatively.
In September, the Bank of England made the decision to maintain its policy interest rate at 5.25%. This choice keeps borrowing costs at their highest level since the year 2008. The rationale behind this decision lies in the cautious approach taken by policymakers, who are closely monitoring recent developments in inflation and labour data. These indicators suggest that the cumulative effects of prior policy tightening measures might finally be starting to manifest.
This decision marks a significant pause in the central bank's policy tightening efforts, which had been ongoing for nearly two years. To provide context, the Bank of England had executed an unprecedented series of interest rate hikes totalling 515 basis points before this pause.
The outcome of the Monetary Policy Committee's vote on this matter resulted in a close 5-4 split in favour of maintaining rates at their current level. Notably, four committee members were in favour of an additional 25 basis points increase.
The central bank also offered insight into its outlook on consumer price inflation (CPI). It anticipates a notable decline in CPI inflation in the near term. This decline is expected to be driven by factors such as lower energy inflation, even though there is renewed upward pressure from oil prices. Additionally, further declines in food and core goods price inflation contribute to this assessment.
It's important to highlight that policymakers have affirmed their commitment to taking additional tightening measures if they deem it necessary in the future.
Retail sales in August showed a modest increase, recovering somewhat from July's decline but falling short of expectations. Food store sales rebounded, while non-food store sales also saw improvement. However, online trade decreased in August, whilst automotive fuel sales declined, possibly due to rising fuel prices. On an annual basis, retail trade continued its decline but at a slower pace compared to previous months, marking the 17th consecutive month of contraction.
Crypto bills could be delayed as many prepare for US government shutdown.
The crypto industry’s business in Washington is coming to a head just as a looming congressional budget impasse could shut down an array of federal services next week. The United States government could be shut down in the next seven days with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy facing political pressure from members of his own party on how to handle spending plans - a decision that could adversely affect how lawmakers move forward with crypto bills awaiting a vote.
In July, US lawmakers with the House Financial Services Committee voted in favour of the Financial Innovation and Technology for the 21st Century Act (FIT), the Blockchain Regulatory Certainty Act, the Clarity for Payment Stablecoins Act and the Keep Your Coins Act. The passages were a first for the committee to move forward with so many crypto-focused bills, which could lead to a House floor vote in the current session of Congress.
The industry’s most urgent needs from the federal government include answers from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on exchange-traded fund (ETF) applications, progress in several key court cases and the next hurdles in crypto legislation. However, the digital assets sector can expect its most important matters won’t go entirely dark, even if they’re dragged out longer than hoped.
SEC Chair Gary Gensler has warned the agency will operate with a “skeletal” staff during a shutdown, just as it is facing deadlines that could determine the future of crypto ETFs and many court cases are nearing towards resolution.
According to reporting from CoinDesk, an SEC spokesperson when asked on the matter said, if necessary, the agency will follow its operational plan for shutdowns, a situation it’s faced more than once. That plan says the agency will halt litigation where possible, unless the situation poses a threat to consumers’ property, and will stop reviewing and approving applications for new products.
As for the cryptocurrency sector gaining regulatory status in the US, the federal legislation required to move in that direction probably will not be helped by a disrupted Congress.
Love and vulnerability: The perils of romance scams.
In the digital age, love knows no boundaries. With the click of a button, you can connect with someone halfway across the world and potentially find the love of your life. But in the vast realm of online dating and romance, there lurks a sinister threat – romance scams. These scams have thrived on the universal human desire for love and companionship. Love, a powerful and wonderful emotion, can sometimes cloud judgment, making romance scams distressingly effective. Scammers, adept at manipulation, exploit this vulnerability to build emotional connections online, convincing victims to send cryptocurrencies or invest with them. In this article, we explore the world of romance scams and provide essential tips on how to protect yourself from falling victim to these heart-wrenching deceptions.
The power of romance.
Love, as the saying goes, makes the world go 'round. It's a profound emotion that can bring people together, spark joy, and create lasting bonds. Unfortunately, it can also blind us to potential dangers, especially when it comes to online interactions. Romance scams play on our yearning for connection, promising love, companionship, and sometimes even a fairy-tale ending. Scammers are skilled at crafting personas that tug at the heartstrings, and they use these personas to build trust.
The anatomy of a romance scam.
Romance scammers often start by creating fake online profiles on dating websites, social media platforms, or even within online gaming communities. These profiles are carefully designed to be attractive, using stolen photos and fabricated personal stories. Once a connection is established, scammers employ a range of tactics to deepen the emotional bond. They might shower you with affectionate messages, engage in long conversations, and express deep love and commitment.
As the relationship progresses, the scammer introduces financial requests. These can take various forms, such as emergency medical bills, plane tickets for a promised meeting, or investments with the potential of incredible returns. Victims, blinded by love and trust, are often willing to provide the requested funds or even invest their hard-earned money. Sadly, these funds usually disappear into the hands of the scammer, leaving victims heartbroken and financially devastated.
Protecting yourself from romance scams.
While it's essential to remain open to the possibilities of love and connection, it's equally crucial to protect yourself from potential scams.
Here are some valuable tips to keep in mind:
- Verify their identity: Before getting emotionally invested, try to verify the person's identity. Use reverse image searches to check if the photos they've shared are associated with other profiles online. If something doesn't add up, proceed with caution.
- Slow down and be cautious: Scammers often rush the relationship, pushing for financial assistance or personal information quickly. Take your time to get to know someone and establish trust gradually.
- Protect your personal information: Never share personal or financial information with someone you've met online, especially if you haven't met them in person. Be cautious about sharing details like your address, phone number, or financial accounts.
- Watch for red flags: Be alert to inconsistencies in their stories, requests for money, or reluctance to share personal details about themselves. Scammers may also avoid video calls or meetings in person.
- Educate yourself: Familiarise yourself with common online scams and the tactics scammers use. The more you know, the better equipped you are to recognise suspicious behaviour.
- Stay on secure platforms: Use reputable websites and social media platforms that have safety measures in place. Report any suspicious activity to the platform administrators.
- Trust your instincts: If something doesn't feel right, trust your gut. If a situation or request feels too good to be true, it probably is.
Romance scams are a stark reminder that love, and vulnerability can be exploited in the digital age. Scammers prey on our longing for companionship and emotional connection, making it essential to approach online relationships with caution.
Protecting yourself from romance scams involves a combination of scepticism, awareness, and a healthy dose of self-preservation. While love can be a beautiful thing, it's crucial to prioritise your safety and financial security when navigating the complex world of online romance. Remember, true love is built on trust, respect, and honesty, not financial transactions, or suspicious requests.
ASIC provides a checklist of common scams and ways to avoid them. To learn more, visit ASIC’s website.
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Prices are accurate as of 10:00 AM AEST, on 28/09/2023.