Bitcoin

Bitcoin ETFs Show Record Discounts, Signaling Stress

Spot-Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are exhibiting signs of stress as the cryptocurrency market endures a downturn, with prices of major ETFs tracking Bitcoin witnessing significant discounts to their underlying asset values.

Following a roughly 5% decline in Bitcoin’s price, several leading ETFs recorded their largest discounts on the value of underlying assets in their short trading history on Tuesday. The trend persisted on Wednesday as Bitcoin continued to drop, experiencing a decline of up to 5.6%.

The $16 billion iShares Bitcoin Trust (IBIT) closed approximately 1.7% below its net asset value on Tuesday, marking the largest dislocation since its inception in January. Similarly, the $9 billion Fidelity Wise Origin Bitcoin Fund (FBTC) and the $2.5 billion ARK 21Shares Bitcoin ETF (ARKB) both saw discounts exceeding 1.4%, the highest on record for each ETF. The $2 billion Bitwise Bitcoin ETF (BITB) also closed with a notable discount.

James Seyffart, an ETF analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, noted that while the discounts are significant, they are not unprecedented in the context of ETF trading dynamics. However, the deviations underscore the challenges of integrating the traditional market with Bitcoin, where shares in ETFs can only be created and redeemed for cash rather than Bitcoin itself.

Although price discrepancies in ETFs tend to be temporary due to the creation-redemption mechanism, Bitcoin’s volatility presents greater risks for ETF investors compared to traditional financial assets. Despite this, specialized trading firms, known as authorized participants, capitalize on such volatility to profitably maintain ETF prices in line with their net asset values.

Virtu Financial Inc. CEO Douglas A. Cifu expressed confidence in sustained opportunities in crypto ETFs, citing the inherent volatility of the asset class. However, the uncertain macroeconomic environment, potentially influenced by Federal Reserve policy decisions, poses challenges for speculative assets like digital tokens.

While hopes persist for increased institutional adoption of spot-bitcoin ETFs, the performance of Bitcoin remains intertwined with broader economic factors. As the Federal Reserve concludes its policy meeting, the outlook for rate cuts may further impact Bitcoin’s price trajectory and ETF discounts.

Mohit Bajaj, director of ETFs at WallachBeth Capital, acknowledged the possibility of ETF discounts persisting if Bitcoin’s downward trend continues, highlighting the uncertainty surrounding the cryptocurrency market.

Featured Image: Freepik

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