Bitcoin’s price has stabilized near $27,000 since May 13, displaying reduced volatility in the period. This movement is eerily similar to early April, when Bitcoin’s (BTC) 12-hour chart ranged between $27,800 and $28,700 for 11 days. Traders are now questioning whether a bullish breakout is the next possible outcome for the Bitcoin price.
According to technical analysis, the sideways movement illustrates an ongoing conflict, meaning traders are unsure about the direction of Bitcoin’s next price trend. This is a consequence of balanced demand between buyers and sellers, which typically precedes periods of extreme price volatility and is triggered by big events.
In other words, Bitcoin traders are waiting for a potential market trigger that could decisively push the BTC price in either direction. For instance, on May 25, the United States Bureau of Economic Analysis will announce the annualized gross domestic product (GDP) for the first quarter. This data will be followed by U.S. durable goods orders on May 26, which measures the cost of orders received by manufacturers.
A separate debate concerns the U.S. debt ceiling fight, with talks remaining deadlocked last week. Bipartisan negotiations are underway to lift the debt limit to avoid a U.S. government default ahead of June 1, but no agreement is in sight. In short, Republicans are demanding several cuts in government spending as contingencies.
Analyzing whether the Bitcoin derivatives market structure resembles the early April period is the first step to understanding the odds of breaking above $29,000 if the macroeconomic environment allows.
Bitcoin futures markets display reduced demand from bulls
Bitcoin quarterly futures are popular among whales and arbitrage desks, but these fixed-month contracts typically trade at a slight premium to spot markets, indicating that sellers are asking for more money to delay settlement.
As a result, BTC futures contracts in healthy markets should trade at a 5% to 10% annualized premium — a situation known as contango, which is not unique to crypto markets.
There’s little similarity between the early April bullish breakout and the current status of the Bitcoin futures premium. Even though the 4% level seen on April 10 was below the neutral 5% threshold, it represented an increase from two weeks prior.
In contrast, the indicator presently stands at 2%, in line with the previous two weeks, so traders are currently less optimistic in comparison to early April.
Bitcoin options pricing is perfectly balanced between bulls and bears
Traders should also analyze options markets to understand whether the recent correction has caused investors to become more optimistic. The 25% delta skew is a telling sign of when arbitrage desks and market makers overcharge for upside or downside protection.
In essence, if traders anticipate a Bitcoin price drop, the skew metric will rise above 7%, and phases of excitement tend to have a negative 7% skew.
As displayed above, according to the BTC options 25% delta skew, traders flirted with excessive optimism on March 30 but reverted to a neutral stance by April 10. That is the perfect positioning for a surprise rally, as traders were gradually losing faith, according to options pricing.
On the other hand, the most recent range trading period initiated on May 13 displayed balanced pricing between the call and put options, perfectly reflecting how unsure traders are due to uncertain macroeconomic conditions.
The derivatives market differs from early April
Bitcoin options and futures markets indicate little to no resemblance to early April, when the BTC price ended its 11-day low-volatility period. That time around, Bitcoin rallied 8% from $28,300 to $30,800 in less than 24 hours.
That doesn’t necessarily mean a similar outcome is impossible if Bitcoin’s present 10-day sideways movement near $27,000 ends up breaking to the upside. Still, a bullish breakout is less likely, considering BTC options traders are pricing similar risks for upside and downside movements.
Moreover, the overall sentiment according to Bitcoin futures is neutral to bearish, which is unchanged when compared to the past couple of weeks.
This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal or investment advice. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.