Money and Markets

Bitcoin tumbles to a 1-month low in broad cryptocurrency sell-off after Russia attacks Ukraine

Business Insider US
Crypto markets woke up in panic mode on Thursday.
  • Bitcoin fell to its lowest in a month Thursday after Vladimir Putin authorized "special military action" in Ukraine.
  • Investors panicked in reaction to reports of Russian attacks on Ukrainian cities and sold risky assets, an analyst said.
  • FTX's Sam Bankman-Fried suggested Thursday's decline in crypto is a result of algorithmic trading.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

Bitcoin tumbled to its lowest level in a month along with a broad decline in other cryptocurrencies after Vladimir Putin ordered Russian forces to attack Ukraine on Thursday.

Within minutes of Putin's televised decision to launch a "special military action" against Ukraine, reports of explosions and flares came from at least five places in the country including its capital, Kyiv.

Bitcoin fell 9% to $34,584 and ether fell 13% to $2,315, according to data from CoinMarketCap. Ripple's XRP and cardano's ada both plunged by more than 12%.

Escalation in Russia and Ukraine's conflict has led to fear in both the stock and crypto markets, signaling growing risk aversion.

Markets woke up in panic mode as investors reacted to the news overnight, according to Walid Koudmani, chief market analyst at financial brokerage XTB. He said his clients are selling out of risky asset classes to buy gold and the US dollar, which are seen as safer investments at times of uncertainty.

"Investors hate uncertainty and whilst it's inevitable that the West will respond to Russia's aggression, what's unclear right now is by what severity and how the situation could escalate further," he said.

"As a result, investors are seeking asset protection and don't want to take on any risk to their portfolios."

FTX chief executive Sam Bankman-Fried suggested Thursday's decline in cryptocurrencies might be a result of algorithmic trading, a process that makes trade decisions based on pre-determined instructions.

"Fundamental investors look at the situation and are uncertain which direction BTC/USD should move," he said in a tweet. "Algorithm followers consult the data."

Crypto markets have been on edge in recent days as investors assessed conflict in eastern Europe combined with macroeconomic uncertainty.

Will Hamilton, head of trading at Trovio Capital Management, pointed out crypto investors may be seeking out buying opportunities at this time.

The Digital Asset Fear & Greed Index that utilizes a variety of data including volatility, momentum, volume, and media sentiment to identify market risk appetite, retraced to the "Extreme Fear" level on Wednesday, indicating a potential buying opportunity for high conviction participants, he said.

John Warren, CEO of bitcoin miner GEM Mining, seemed to agree that investors should be watching out for good buying opportunities when crypto dips.

Still, large swings in crypto prices recently have undermined the argument that bitcoin is a hedge against economic uncertainty. Safe-haven gold rose 1.6% to $1,942 an ounce on Thursday — its highest since early 2021.

The S&P 500 fell 1.8% at Wednesday's close after Ukraine declared a state of emergency and the US warned Russia is on the verge of an attack. A collapse in global stocks accelerated Thursday after Putin announced the military operation in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region. S&P futures were down almost 2% in European trading.

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