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First Mover Asia: Bitcoin Rises Above $28.3K Despite Binance Legal Woes

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Good morning. Here’s what’s happening:

Prices: Investors shrugged off concerns about the Commodity Futures Trading Commission's suit against Binance to send bitcoin above $28K again.

Insights: The Ethereum Goerli test network has been a proving ground for major upgrades such as the Merge. Can a small community of supporters keep it going?

Prices

CoinDesk Market Index (CMI)

1,219

+35.3 3.0%

Bitcoin (BTC)

$28,380

+1076.9 3.9%

Ethereum (ETH)

$1,794

+19.5 1.1%

S&P 500

4,027.81

+56.5 1.4%

Gold

$1,964

−8.0 0.4%

Nikkei 225

27,883.78

+365.5 1.3%

BTC/ETH prices per CoinDesk Indices, as of 7 a.m. ET (11 a.m. UTC)

What Crypto Worries? Investors Send Bitcoin Back Over $28K

Despite ongoing tension stemming from Binance’s recent legal woes, bitcoin (BTC) and other major cryptocurrencies spent Wednesday in the green.

The largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization was recently trading at $28,380, up 3.9% over the past 24 hours and well up from its lows below $27,000 earlier in the week after the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed a lawsuit against Binance accusing the exchange giant of offering unregistered crypto derivatives, among other allegations. BTC is up about 21% in March, outperforming other assets such as ether, stocks and gold.

BTC outperformed other assets such as ether, stocks and gold in March so far. (CoinDesk Research, St. Louis Fed, Yahoo Finance)
BTC outperformed other assets such as ether, stocks and gold in March so far. (CoinDesk Research, St. Louis Fed, Yahoo Finance)

“The market has reacted positively despite the CFTC story mostly because the broader narrative of a return to quantitative tightening and fiat printing remains dominant,” Joe DiPasquale, CEO of crypto asset manager BitBull Capital, told CoinDesk in an email.

Ether (ETH), the second-largest cryptocurrency by market value, was recently changing hands at $1,794, gaining 1.1% for the day. Among other altcoins, crypto payment platform Ripple’s XRP token continued its strength from Tuesday, jumping nearly 6% to 54 cents. Cardano’s ADA token and Polygon’s MATIC token were up 3.8% and 3.3%, respectively.

The CoinDesk Market Index, which measures the overall crypto market performance, recently rose 3.4%.

DiPasquale said the recent outperformance of coins like XRP is tied to “regulators seemingly questioning even the biggest names in the space,” adding that “the playing field is evened for all other coins that were previously considered contentious.”

In the lawsuit filed Monday against Binance in U.S. District Court in Illinois, the CFTC called several cryptos including BTC, ETH, litecoin (LTC), tether (USDT) and Binance USD (BUSD) commodities. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Gary Gensler has previously suggested that proof-of-stake tokens like ETH are securities amid an ongoing feud between the agencies about jurisdiction.

Equity markets edged higher Wednesday: The S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq closed up 1.4% and 1.7%, respectively. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) was also up 1%.

James Lavish, managing partner at the Bitcoin Opportunity Fund, called Wednesday a "risk-on" day across the board as investors appeared to position themselves and their books ahead of several data releases later this week, including Thursday’s U.S. final fourth-quarter GDP figure release and Friday’s personal consumption expenditures (PCE) inflation data.

“The thought is if this data comes in weaker than expectations, then it will give (Federal Reserve Chair Jerome) Powell enough evidence to pause further rate raises,” Lavish told CoinDesk in an email. The CME FedWatch Tool showed that currently over 62% of traders predict that the U.S. central bank will not raise its interest rate in its May monetary policy meeting.

He added that BTC's price benefited from the recent risk-on move as well as the announcement that China completed its first yuan-settled liquefied natural gas (LNG) trade with the United Arab Emirates.

"This strengthens the argument that bitcoin may be used as a means of exchange in large cross-border energy trades in the near future," he said. “That said, I believe this reality, while valid, is still a ways off.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. two-year Treasury rate remained almost flat from Tuesday, same time, to sit around 4.06% Wednesday, while the 10-year Treasury rate was also almost flat from a day ago at 3.56%.

Nicholas Colas, co-founder of the market analysis firm DataTrek Research, highlighted in a Wednesday note that the yield on two-year Treasurys has been higher than that of the 10-year’s since July 2022 – a sign that “markets saw U.S. monetary policy as restrictive.”

“Monetary policy is essentially pushing the brakes on the U.S. economy and a recession inevitably follows” based on the historical patterns, Colas wrote, adding: “We certainly have the ‘kindling’ for a recession call, but the catalytic ‘spark’ is still not entirely obvious to US equity markets.”

Biggest Gainers

Asset

Ticker

Returns

DACS Sector

Gala

GALA

+7.3%

Entertainment

Chainlink

LINK

+6.0%

Computing

XRP

XRP

+5.8%

Currency

Biggest Losers

There are no losers in CoinDesk 20 today.

Insights

A DAO Rallies to Keep the Goerli Test Network Alive

The future of the Ethereum Goerli test network remains uncertain, but a little-known Ethereum community is rallying behind the network in the hope that a solution can be found to keep it going.

GoerliDAO, a decentralized autonomous organization, is making the case to continue Goerli as an active blockchain network and using goerli ether (gETH) to incentivize activity on the network.

“Goerli’s historical usage makes it an ideal candidate to be Ethereum’s de facto canary network – a pretesting environment closely resembling the mainnet,” the newly formed DAO said in a post earlier this week.

“An incentivized canary network like Goerli offers unique advantages to builders and users alike, and the concept has seen success on many blockchains – most notably with Kusama in relation to Polkadot,” it added.

It is unclear who is behind GoerliDAO as of Wednesday.

Testnets like Goerli are a testing environment that mimics real-world blockchain usage, allowing developers to find and patch critical bugs for upcoming products or features meant to be deployed on a blockchain's main, or live, network.

Much of the testing of Ethereum’s major upgrades, such as the Merge, were conducted on Goerli.

Keeping such a testing environment alive is what the folks behind GoerliDAO are rallying to do. “The preservation of Goerli as a canary network will not only fill a crucial need within the Ethereum ecosystem but also pave the way for future innovation and incentivization in the world of decentralized finance,” they said.

Find the full story here.

Important events

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8:00 p.m. HKT/SGT(12:00 UTC) Germany Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices (YoY/March)

8:30 p.m. HKT/SGT(12:30 UTC) United States Gross Domestic Product Annualized (Q4)

CoinDesk TV

In case you missed it, here is the most recent episode of "First Mover" on CoinDesk TV:

Bitcoin on Pace for Best Quarter in Two Years; Nansen Data Shows Binance’s On-Chain Balance Stands at $64B

Bitcoin (BTC) has added almost 72% to $28,500 this year, its best quarterly gain in two years, CoinDesk data shows. Arca Chief Investment Officer Jeff Dorman weighed in. Plus, Binance’s on-chain balance remains high despite U.S. regulators charging Binance for violating U.S. federal law this past week. Braden Perry, Kennyhertz Perry partner and former CFTC senior trial lawyer, shared his views on the future of crypto regulation. And, Journey's Chief Metaverse Officer Cathy Hackl reacted to Metaverse Fashion Week.

Headlines

Shanghai Is Nearing, But When Can I Withdraw My Staked ETH?: Even though the Ethereum blockchain’s Shanghai hard fork (also known as Shapella) will go live April 12, you might not receive your rewards immediately if you have staked ETH with a staking service or a staking pool.

AI-Focused Crypto Protocol Fetch.ai Raises $40M to Deploy Decentralized Machine Learning: The funding marks yet another investment by market maker DWF Labs, its sixth this month.

Open Interest in XRP Surges to $800M as Crypto Traders Hope Ripple-SEC Verdict Will Bring 'Alt Season': If the court rules that XRP is a security, it would mean the same for other alternative cryptocurrencies and subject the broader market to stringent supervision.

Arbitrum Shows Just How Messy (and Tricky) Crypto Airdrops Can Be: Bugs, server crashes and scammers continue to plague crypto airdrops. Will regulatory pressures be next?

DeFi Platform Lido to Cease Staking on Polkadot, Kusama in August: The service will be terminated on Aug. 1 with automatic unstaking occurring in June.