Bitcoin prices fall below $19K after data shows that pro traders avoid leverage longs

On Sept. 6, a surprise price correction of $860 took Bitcoin ( BTC ) from $19 820 to $18,960 in just two hours. This movement led to $74 million in Bitcoin derivatives exchange liquidations, the largest in nearly three weeks. The current $18,733 level represents a 24% correction to the $25,000 rally on Aug. 15.

Bitcoin/USD 30-min price. Source: TradingView

It’s worth noting that Bitcoin traded at $19,800 in less than an hour after a 2% move toward $20,200. The price action of Ether ( ETH) was more interesting. It gained 7% in 48 hours before the market correction.

You can dismiss any conspiracy theories about investors shifting their positions to favor altcoins. Ether fell 5.6% on Sept. 6, while Bitcoin’s $860 drop represents a 3.8% increase.

Since August 27, comments by U.S Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell were , followed by a $1.25 billion loss in U.S stocks within a single day. Powell stated that higher interest rates were still possible at the annual Jackson Hole Economic Symposium. The S&P 500 closed down 3.4% that day.

Let’s look at the data on crypto derivatives to see if investors are pricing down more likely outcomes.

Since last week, pro traders have been bearish

Because of the price differences between spot and quarterly futures, retail traders tend to avoid them. They are still preferred by professional traders because they prevent the fluctuation in funding rates, which is often seen in perpetual futures contracts.

Bitcoin 3-month futures annualized premium. Source: Laevitas

To cover costs and other risks, an indicator should trade at a premium of 4% to 8.8% annually in healthy markets. Because the Bitcoin futures premium was below 3%, it is safe to say that derivatives traders were neutral to bearish over the past month. This data shows professional traders’ inability to add leveraged bull (long) positions.

To exclude any externalities that are specific to the futures instrument, one must also analyse the Bitcoin options markets . The 25% delta skew, for example, is an indicator that arbitrage desks and market makers are charging too much for protection.

Bitcoin 30-day options 25% delta skew: Source: Laevitas

Options investors are more likely to be able to predict a price dump in bear markets. This causes the skew indicator above 12%. Bullish markets, on the other hand, tend to lower the skew indicator to negative 12%. This means that bearish put options can be discounted.

Since Sept 1, the 30-day delta skew was above the threshold of 12%, which indicated that options traders were less likely to offer downside protection. These two metrics indicate that the Bitcoin price drop on Sept. 6 may have been partly anticipated, explaining the low impact on liquidations.

Comparatively, $210 million worth leveraged long (buyers), liquidations were caused by the $2,500 Bitcoin plunge on Aug. 18. However, prevailing bearish sentiment doesn’t necessarily mean adverse price action. Whales and market markers tend to be less likely to add leverage longs or offer downside protection by using options.

These views and opinions are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of Cointelegraph. Risk is inherent in every investment or trading move. Before making any investment or trading move, you should do your research.

Opinion writer on 7trade7