Bitcoin prices slide another 13% amid fears big investors are cashing out


The price of bitcoin was in the throes of a selloff on Friday, as the cryptocurrency moved all the way below $13,000 at one point and weekly losses neared the 30% level.


BTCUSD, -11.16%

 was last down nearly 14% to $13,297.76, according to CoinDesk. At that level, and after hitting an all-time high of nearly $20,000 a week ago, the cryptocurrency stands to lose around 31% this week. Bitcoin has so far seen a session low of $12,504.05 for Friday.

January Bitcoin futures

BTCF8, -9.30%

 traded 11% lower at $13,500 on the CME Group’s Chicago Mercantile Exchange, from where they settled on Thursday. The contract made its debut on the world’s biggest futures exchange Sunday at a level of $20,650, but has since steadily declined. On the Cboe, where futures contracts began trading two weeks ago, bitcoin was last changing hands at $13,270.40.

While volatility is nothing new for bitcoin, the cryptocurrency came under particularly intense selling pressure at the start of Asian trading on Friday. Some suggested the hack of a bitcoin exchange in South Korea earlier this week had intensified jitters around the cryptocurrency.

Losses spread to other cryptocurrencies, with bitcoin cash, ether and litecoin all suffering losses of more than 20% over the past 24 hours, according to CoinMarketCap. Litecoin’s founder said earlier this week that he sold and donated his holdings in the cryptocurrency in a Reddit post, saying that he viewed as a conflict of interest to hold litecoin and tweet about it because he has “so much influence.”

The losses may be coming from big investors who are cashing in on the sizable gains seen this year for the cryptocurrency, said Peter Iosif, research analyst at IronFX, in a note to clients. Bitcoin’s cash price has seen a year-to-date rise of roughly 1,200%, with a chunk of that coming late in the year as interest in cryptocurrencies became more widespread.

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“Should the reports be true, there could be a shift from few large holdings and large investors to smaller holdings and more, but smaller investors. Also it could be the case that more investors are opting to switch to other trading instruments which allow them to go short on their investment, hence providing more flexibility,” said Iosif.

While some big Wall Street banks have shown a reluctance to get involved in bitcoin — J.P. Morgan’s chief executive officer Jamie Dimon in September called it a fraud — Goldman Sachs is aiming to have a cryptocurrency trading desk operating by next summer, Bloomberg reported Thursday, citing sources.

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A spokesman for Goldman, Michael DuVally, told Bloomberg in a statement that the bank was “exploring” how to serve clients who have expressed “interest in digital currencies.” In November, Goldman’s CEO Lloyd Blankfein said he didn’t “trust it,” but wasn’t “willing to pooh-pooh it.”

Read: Here’s what Wall Street CEOs have had to say about bitcoin this year

Iosif said he thinks the bears have the upper hand on bitcoin, and if this keeps up, the cryptocurrency could test support around the $12,000 level. If that gives way, he’d look for bitcoin to drop to $8,900.

But should the bulls get control, then bitcoin could work its way back up to $15,580 and aim for $17,000, he said.

Read: Bitcoin investors expect even better returns next year

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