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Before the latest bout of optimism, an SEC crackdown had sapped sentiment and contributed to depressed liquidity in crypto markets. Image Credit: REUTERS

California: A Bitcoin rally moderated near $30,000 as investors assessed a flurry of US applications to start exchange-traded funds investing in the token’s spot market, products American regulators have so far resisted.

The largest digital asset bobbed around the round-number level on Thursday following a 22 per cent surge since BlackRock’s surprise June 15 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission for permission to launch such an ETF.

The climb has outstripped a 13 per cent jump in an index of the largest 100 virtual coins over the same period. Bitcoin’s performance has also split from stocks, turning a short-term correlation between the token and the Nasdaq 100 gauge of technology shares negative for the first time since 2021.

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Aside from BlackRock - the world’s largest asset manager - Invesco, WisdomTree and Bitwise have submitted similar plans in recent days. The SEC has resisted allowing such funds, citing risks such as fraud and manipulation in the token’s spot market, but BlackRock’s stature and approach triggered speculation that the agency might be appeased.

BlackRock’s application and investor “expectations of more stimulus in China” to bolster the nation’s ailing economy are supporting Bitcoin, Tony Sycamore, a market analyst at IG Australia Pty, wrote in a note.

‘Dragging’ crypto higher

Bitcoin edged up 1 per cent to $30,315 as of 6:38 am in London on Thursday after adding more than 5 per cent in each of the prior two days. Smaller tokens such as Ether, Cardano and Solana also posted gains.

Bitcoin “has been the standout outperformer in this move higher and feels to be dragging the rest of the crypto complex with it,” said Spencer Hallarn, derivatives trader at crypto investment firm GSR.

Crypto sentiment also got a boost this week from the start of a digital-asset exchange, EDX Markets, backed by firms including Citadel Securities, Fidelity Digital Assets and Charles Schwab Corp.

Before the latest bout of optimism, an SEC crackdown had sapped sentiment and contributed to depressed liquidity in crypto markets. The regulator is suing exchange operators Binance Holdings and Coinbase Global and in the process has designated a raft of digital tokens as unregistered securities.

Other hurdles include the prospect of tighter monetary policy and indications that Bitcoin’s rally is getting stretched - a momentum gauge known as the 14-day relative strength index flashed an overbought signal.

Bitcoin has rebounded 83 per cent this year after a rout in 2022 that erased $1.5 trillion from digital assets. The token remains roughly $39,000 below its 2021 peak.