Bitcoin (BTC) is up 42% since the start of 2023, but short term, the outlook may now favor the bears.
The latest data paints a problematic picture for BTC price action — investors are greedy, but the mainstream is far from ready to buy.
After January’s 40% surge, BTC/USD is having trouble reaching for resistance higher up the chart.
As Cointelegraph reported, the pair spent the whole of February simply consolidating its prior gains, making it likely the least volatile month on record.
Judging by current moves, however, that consolidatory phase may soon be over — but not work out in bulls’ favor.
Cointelegraph takes a look at three issues that Bitcoin is currently contending with which have the potential to remain a thorn in the side of the bull run.
Bitcoin hodlers feel the greed
Crypto market sentiment received a serious, if unexpected, boost at the start of the year as Bitcoin and altcoins began trending higher.
By the middle of the month, the mood had completely changed versus Q4 2022 — and monitoring tools were quick to show it.
As BTC/USD reclaimed and held $20,000, disbelief soon turned to confidence that the “up only” return to form would continue — even as the pair encountered major resistance near $25,000 which remains unbeaten.
Crypto sentiment is notoriously fickle, and even a modest trend change can upend the overall climate as investors become irrational — both in bullish and bearish terms.
According to the Crypto Fear & Greed Index, that process may well be playing out again this year. The classic sentiment indicators, which uses a basket of factors to deliver a normalized sentiment score for cryptocurrency, recently hit its highest levels since Bitcoin’s November 2021 all-time high.
This has implications — the higher the score, the more likely the market is behaving irrationally and is due for a correction.
Fear & Greed spent much of 2022 in the irrational “extreme fear” zone, hitting rare lows of just 6/100 at one point. Fast forward to Q1 2023, however, and its reading is ten times higher, reflecting irrational “greed” as the overriding market force.
Currently, the Index measures 51/100, characterized as “neutral.”
Mainstream FOMO is nowhere to be seen
If existing hodlers are too eager to bet on the good times continuing, outside the crypto sphere, conditions look very different.
According to the latest data from Google Trends, hardly anyone is interested in finding out about Bitcoin at present, even after its blistering rally.
Compared to the past five years, interest in the term “Bitcoin” is near its lowest recorded levels since mid-2020.
The price may be higher, but for mainstream interest users, Bitcoin currently does not represent a reason for “FOMO,” or even a topic worth investigating.
If previous bull markets were characterized by an influx of new buyers, BTC price action arguably has a way to go before historical patterns repeat themselves.
Whales keep bull run in check
Turning to short-term price charts, a cloud which appeared as part of the run-up continues to hang over bulls.
This comes in the form of a concerted effort by large-volume exchange traders to guide spot price to serve their own aims — making a clean break with the long-term bear trend more difficult to secure.
Cointelegraph continues to cover these whale liquidity areas, which monitoring resource Material Indicators has dubbed the “Notorious B.I.D.”
Its owners have a habit of moving it, with price action behaving increasingly in line with its position on the Binance order book — behavior which has been classed as “manipulation.”
“If BTC price approaches $23.1k, don’t be surprised if some or all of the bid wall gets moved,” Material Indicators wrote in one of its latest Twitter updates alongside a chart showing the liquidity’s recent moves.
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