Ether and Altcoins lead crypto rout as Terra DeFi fallout deepens

Bitcoin acted as somewhat of a haven, paring losses to around 2% after dropping to as low as $28 007.
Image: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

It’s an all-round sea of red for nearly everything in crypto, with altcoins such as Ether, Solana and Avalanche take a beating. Traders are partially stumped as to why this is happening today in particular, but for Ethereum, the signs of a lack of demand have been building for quite some time.

The impact of the collapse of Terra, a blockchain ecosystem that supported one of the biggest experiments in decentralised finance, knocked an already bearish market into wild contagion this month. While Terra’s operators had passed a revival plan to start afresh on a totally new blockchain on Wednesday, investors in the rest of DeFi were less than convinced. A glitch in the process to make the Ethereum network less energy intensive added to the concern.

“Bearish sentiment remains the theme for cryptos,” said ” Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda.

Ether was down as much as 11% on Thursday before paring losses to around $1 843, far below the key threshold of $2 000 which it needs to trade above meaningfully — and soon — if bearish sentiment is to ease. Other tokens linked to protocols popular with decentralised finance projects like Avalanche, Solana and Polkadot were also slumping, down between 11% and 17% over the last 24 hours.

Bitcoin acted as somewhat of a haven, paring losses to around 2% after dropping to as low as $28 007. Still, the largest cryptocurrency decoupled Thursday from US equities after recently mirroring price changes in risk assets in recent weeks. Stocks continued to rebound from the lowest levels in over year.

Demand for blockspace on the Ethereum network has reduced significantly in the wake of Terra’s collapse, which means that consequently, the network’s so-called gas fees are falling. With the exception of a few spikes during high-profile minting events like Yuga Labs’ Otherside land sale, Glassnode data show gas prices have been trending downward since December and recently reached multiyear lows.

Coupled with poor price performance, that’s likely to exacerbate headwinds for the token in the short term. DeFi developers are dusting themselves off after Terra’s collapse halved the sector’s total value, and dampened markets aren’t going to help in convincing them that now’s the time to get back in the game.

The Ethereum beacon chain, which plays a crucial part for the network’s highly anticipated technical upgrade known as the Merge, experienced a potential security risk called the reorganization on Wednesday.

“Part of the ETH drop is due to the reorg issue which might mean a delay in expected Merge timing,” said Noelle Acheson, head of market insights at Genesis Global Trading.

Investors who once were hot on crypto have cooled on its prospects as the Federal Reserve’s rate-hiking regime spurs volatility in the market and dulls previously-hot growth and speculative assets. Guggenheim Partners Chief Investment Officer Scott Minerd said he expects Bitcoin to fall to $8 000. He had once predicted that it could reach $400,000.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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