Once-Hot Strategy of Holding Bitcoin Overnight Loses Luster

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Those who watch crypto charts closely might be familiar with the fact that a hypothetical strategy of buying Bitcoin at the close and selling it at the next open has historically netted big returns. Yet the past few weeks have seen it take a hit.

The opposite of the so-called after-hours strategy, meaning buying the open and selling at the US market’s close, has been outperforming over the past month, according to Jake Gordon at Bespoke Investment Group. That hasn’t historically been the case, with the bulk of gains typically coming outside of regular US trading hours, a phenomenon that market-watchers have long observed and puzzled over.

“The price action of Bitcoin and Ethereum have pivoted from intraday weakness earlier this year to intraday strength,” Gordon wrote in a note. He added that it’s difficult to tell why this might be happening, though the recent deluge of news stories coming out overnight might have something to do with it.

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Bitcoin jumped as much as 7.5% on Monday and traded at $22,229 at 11:16 a.m in London. Ether rallied 11% to its highest level since mid-June.

Crypto investors have for years been fascinated with figuring out how Bitcoin and other digital assets are swayed by news flow or decreased liquidity while US markets — and traders — are shuttered and sleeping. Bespoke had previously found that Bitcoin has largely tended to move higher on weekends, when the stock market is closed, but that Monday through Friday, it trades flat before US equity markets open, but declines as soon as trading commences.

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That the long-prevalent strategy has now lost some of its shine is notable. Partly, it could be explained by the fact that the news flow has been heavy in recent weeks amid trouble at different crypto companies, including hedge funds and lenders.

“It tells me that there is still a lot of bad news out there to come,” said Matt Maley, chief market strategist at Miller Tabak. “Those making the announcements know that the crypto market is so fragile that they make all the announcements when the US markets are closed.”

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Still, the strategy of only holding the coin during the overnight stretch would have, as of Friday, yielded a 134% gain since the end of 2019, according to Bespoke, while buying the open and selling the close spits out a 9% return.

(Updates with Bitcoin’s latest trading in fourth paragraph.)

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