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Bitcoin Lingers Under $27K to Continue Its May Sluggishness Amid Inflation Concerns

May gray turned to June gloom on Thursday as crypto prices veered slightly into the red.

Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, was recently trading at about $26,950, down 0.5% over the past 24 hours and the second consecutive day BTC dropped below $27,000, according to CoinDesk Indexes. The inauspicious beginning to June carried over the downward trend from May when bitcoin’s price dipped almost 4% to break a four-month streak of gains.

Bitcoin soared more than 60% from January, reaching to about $31,000 at one point in mid-April as crypto regained its luster as a safe-haven asset following a string of U.S. bank failures that raised concerns about traditional finance.

“Anytime you have an asset that has a significant volatility such as cryptocurrency, any real monthly move that is under a safe flat fee of 5% is relatively muted,” CoinDesk Head of Index Research Todd Groth told CoinDesk’s "First Mover" program on Wednesday. “The broad CMI was down about 2% to 3%. In the context of how much these assets can move over historical basis, it's really a bit of a choppy month. Now we’re looking for that next big narrative to move higher.”

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Groth noted optimistically that markets had recently priced in a resumption of more hawkish monetary policy after hopes rose in early May amid encouraging signs that inflation was waning enough to allow the U.S. central bank to halt its nearly year-long campaign of interest rate increases.

Read More: On Heels of First Losing Month of 2023, Bitcoin and Ether Flash Differing Signals

“We have repriced interest rate expectations to not be so dovish without any sort of big market correction lower, so that has been positive,” Groth said but added that the “repricing interest rates higher” has also been a sort of a headwind.”

Ether, the second largest crypto in market value, was recently trading at about $1,870, up slightly from Wednesday, same time. Other major digital assets were mostly down, albeit not by much, although litecoin was an exception as it recently rose more than 7% with investors seemingly buoyed by the network’s halving in two months and a jump in activity in May.

Groth noted that LTC and RNDR, the token of the Render Network, a provider of decentralized graphic processing units-based rendering solutions, ranked the CoinDesk Indexes biggest gainers for May. LTC and RNDR have risen roughly 20% and 7.5% over the past 30 days. “We’ve seen the narrative of GPUs broadly repurposed to be these big AI (artificial intelligence) clusters and Render is effectively a decentralized AI cluster,” Groth said. "So there’s no surprise that on a relative basis, it outperformed, given the buzz and hype over Chat GPT, all these LLMs. That caught some of that Nvidia bump up.”

The CoinDesk Market Index, a measure of crypto markets performance, recently sank 0.4%.

Meanwhile, stocks rose a day after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to raise the debt limit ensuring the government could meet its financial obligations at least for the near-term and avoid a shutdown. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite and S&P 500, which has a hefty technology component, both rose about a percentage point. Gold inched up 0.6% to above $1,995, although it remains well below its near record high of nearly a month ago.

In an email to CoinDesk, Leo Mizuhara, CEO of institutional crypto management platform Hashnote, wrote that crypto markets had “dodged a bullet, thanks to the resolution to the debt ceiling crisis and a growing embrace of digital assets in Asia, particularly in Hong Hong, which has been trying to create easier access for retail investors.

But he added that he is “not expecting a huge breakout for Bitcoin at the moment, and compared the current stasis in markets to 2019 when investors were recovering from an extended bear market.

“We’re basically in a builder’s market,” Mizuhara wrote. “A lot of interesting protocols and companies are being launched. Venture funding is creeping back in. So, like in 2019, we’re likely in this build-up phase that sees a lot of positive energy flowing into the space that in turn sets the foundations for the next bull cycle. Despite the difficulties facing the crypto industry in the United States, what’s happening globally makes it hard not to feel optimistic right now.”