Bears target new lows for Ethereum as Friday’s $1.1B options expiry approaches
Ether (ETH) price tumbled below the $3,000 support on Jan. 21 as regulatory uncertainty continues to weigh down the sector and rumors that the United States Securities and Exchange Commission is reviewing DeFi’s high-yield crypto lending products continue to circulate.
On Jan. 27, the Russian Finance Ministry submitted a crypto regulatory framework for review. The proposal suggests that crypto operations are carried out within the traditional banking infrastructure and that mechanisms to identify traders’ personal data are included.
Further bearish news came as Ryan Korner, a top special agent from the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation’s Los Angeles field office, issued negative remarks during a virtual event hosted by the USC Gould School of Law. According to Ryan, crypto is the “future,” but ”fraud and manipulation are still rampant in the space.”
Ether bulls are trying to determine whether the Jan. 24 drop to $2,140 was the final bottom for the current downtrend. This 47.5% correction in 30 days caused an aggregate of $1.58 billion in long futures contracts to be liquidated.
Notice how Ether’s price has been downtrending for 75 days, respecting a channel that currently holds $2,200 as a support level. On the other hand, a 19% price increase from the current $2,500 to the $3,000 resistance would not necessarily mean a trend reversal.
Curiously, call (buy) option instruments vastly dominate Friday’s $1.1 billion expiry, but bears are better positioned after Ether price stabilized below $3,000.
A broader view using the call-to-put ratio shows an 82% advantage to Ether bulls because the $680 million call (buy) instruments have a larger open interest versus the $410 million put (sell) options. However, the 1.82 call-to-put indicator is deceptive because the price drop below $3,000 caused most bullish bets to become worthless.
For example, if Ether’s price remains below $2,500 at 8:00 am UTC on Jan. 28, only $57 million worth of those call (buy) options will be available. That effect happens because there is no value in the right to buy Ether at $2,500 if it is trading below this level.
Data suggests bulls are set for a significative loss
Below are the three most likely scenarios based on the current price action. The number of options contracts available on Friday for bulls (call) and bear (put) instruments vary depending on the expiry price. The imbalance favoring each side constitutes the theoretical profit:
- Between $2,200 and $2,400: 3,200 calls vs. 121,500 puts. The net result is $270 million favoring the put (bear) instruments.
- Between $2,400 and $2,700: 19,500 calls vs. 95,500 puts. The net result favors bears by $190 million.
- Between $2,700 and $2,900: 34,700 calls vs. 73,400 puts. The net result favors the put (bear) options by $110 million.
This crude estimate considers the call options used in bullish bets and the put options exclusively in neutral-to-bearish trades. Even so, this oversimplification disregards more complex investment strategies.
For instance, a trader could have sold a call option, effectively gaining a negative exposure to Ether above a specific price. But unfortunately, there’s no easy way to estimate this effect.
Bears will try to hold ETH below $2,400
Ether bears need a gentle push below $2,400 to score a $270 million profit on Friday. On the other hand, bulls would need an 8.4% price recovery from the current $2,500 to reduce their loss by 58%.
Considering the bearish regulatory newsflow, Ether bulls are unlikely willing to add more risk right now. Therefore, bulls should concentrate their efforts to partially salvage this defeat by keeping Ether price above $2,500, resulting in a $170 million loss.
January seems to have given Ether bears the upper hand in keeping the pressure on the price in the short term.
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