The last three weeks have been quite a rollercoaster ride for bitcoin traders. Starting on October 26th, the price of bitcoin broke out from around $280 to touch a high of $500 on November 4th, capping a frenzied nine-day bull run. Since then the price has tumbled back under $350, currently sitting at $335 as of this writing.
Two Possible Reasons for Bitcoin's Rise to $500
There has been plenty of speculation within the bitcoin community and media as to why this price spike occurred. Below, we highlight a few popular explanations.
Chinese Capital Controls
In an effort to stimulate the economy and grow consumer demand, the Chinese government has introduced new capital controls and devalued the yuan over the past few months. These actions have led to increased demand for bitcoin both as a speculative investment and a means to move money out of China.
The abnormally high volumes on major Chinese bitcoin exchanges since September (as capital controls tightened and the yuan weakened) may have helped fuel the bull run and could help buoy the price of bitcoin going forward.
Speculation Tied to Positive Media Coverage and USMS Auction
The nine-day bull run also saw an influx of positive mainstream media coverage of Bitcoin’s underlying technology, blockchain. Feature articles in The Economist and other publications may have helped to fuel speculative buying of bitcoin. Additionally, posturing by bidders ahead of the final USMS auction (which wrapped on November 5th) could be another potential driver. Interestingly, the price of bitcoin is down over 20% since November 5th.
Fall From $500
The move down occurred primarily out of exhaustion from a price surge that reached unsustainable levels without first pulling back to consolidate in a new price range.
The chart below highlights the extreme readings in key technical indicators that preceded the large intra-day drop from a new high of $500 down to $400 on November 4th. This market activity is called a “blow off top” which forms when a steep and rapid price move is accompanied by rising volume. The formation can be caused by fundamental news or speculation such as those cited in the previous section. Blow off tops are followed by swift drops in both price and volume.
2015 Year-End Outlook
For the first time since December 2014, the price of bitcoin has been able to stay above the $300 price level. The chart below also shows that the bitcoin price became overbought for the first time on a weekly chart since 2013.
The $300-$315 range is a major support area which should hold if the price action remains bullish. As long as the price is able to consolidate and not fall below this support level, a retest of the $400 level could be on the table before year-end.
If the market hits $400, there will be heavy resistance as a result of the overhead supply caused by the big one-day selloff on November 4th. In order to break above $400, the price will need heavy volume on large buy orders. Additional resistance can also be found around $340 and $375 on the way up.