Ether Hits Record Amid Upgrades, Then Succumbs to Crypto Malaise

Cryptocurrencies were languishing on Friday, but the second-biggest -- Ether -- has been showing some life amid network upgrades.

While Ether was down along with Bitcoin, falling 10% to around $2,150 as of early afternoon in Hong Kong, it reached a record $2,644 intraday on Thursday. That compares with Bitcoin, which has been on a downward trend since its own record April 14. A coming upgrade is expected to reduce the supply of Ether, which could help boost the price.

“Ethereum is getting a bit of the spotlight,” said Paolo Ardoino, chief technology officer at Bitfinex, in a note Thursday. “Its pivotal role in decentralized finance (DeFi) and even the exuberant NFT market is worth noting.”

The Ethereum blockchain is the most actively used in the world, and has been gaining attention in recent months with the activity in areas like DeFi and nonfungible tokens. Over the past year, a group of investors has emerged that’s Ether-first, or in some cases Ether-only, Grayscale Investments LLC said in December. And it’s showing up in prices: while Bitcoin has risen some 70% this year, Ether has tripled.

Ether Hits Record Amid Upgrades, Then Succumbs to Crypto Malaise

Crypto watchers are seeing further gains as well. Konstantin Anissimov, executive director at crypto exchange platform CEX.IO, said the $3,000 level for Ether is “more achievable than ever.” Nick Spanos, co-founder of decentralized network Zap.org, sees it reaching that point by the end of this month. And Arthur Hayes, co-founder of 100x who’s currently in legal trouble with the U.S. but is widely followed in the crypto community, last week posted a commentary that predicted heady price increases for Ether in coming years.

That doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing. Cryptocurrencies are volatile, and some caution that they could be in a bubble. What’s more, Cornerstone Macro LLC has said that Ether may have more downside in market drawdowns than Bitcoin does.

Still, Evercore ISI technical analyst Rich Ross is a “strong buyer” of Ether. It “remains a ‘Bit’ better than the Crypto King” he said in a note Thursday while targeting a price of $3,500.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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