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After recent plunge, Bitcoin is again underperforming stocks this year

July 9, 2021, 11:20 AM UTC

July hasn’t been a good month for crypto investors.

Following a steep decline on Thursday, Bitcoin is now up 13.3% for the year, underperforming the S&P 500 over the same period.

For the past month, Bitcoin and stocks—as represented by the benchmark S&P 500—have traded places as the better-returning bet for investors so far in 2021. But the notoriously volatile Bitcoin is finding it hard to keep up. As of Thursday’s close, the S&P 500 was up 15% year to date, and was gaining in premarket Friday morning, while the crypto price board is awash in red.

The latest crypto decline was triggered by the rough tumble Bitcoin took yesterday, falling 6% at one point. Ethereum and Dogecoin had it worse, falling about 10%, according to CoinDesk, before recovering. Ethereum and Dogecoin are outperforming stocks for the year, but the latter is in a bear-market correction over the past month, and Ethereum is off 13.5% in that period.

The recent declines hit just as it appeared crypto coins were beginning to stabilize over the past week. Among the factors that pushed them lower yesterday were further hawkish rumblings from China and a note to Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Gary Gensler from Sen. Elizabeth Warren that described crypto markets as “highly opaque and volatile.”

For crypto bulls, there’s some reason to worry. Bitcoin continues to trade below its closely watched 50- and 100-day moving average. The upshot: There have been a lot more sellers than buyers since Bitcoin hit its all-time high of nearly $65,000 in mid-April.

Fortune graphic of Bitcoin performance
Fortune graphic of Bitcoin performance
Fortune graphic of Bitcoin performance

The fall from grace is exemplified by the story of a 101.38-carat diamond that was recently auctioned off at Sotheby’s. The international auction house said it would accept Bitcoin or Ether as payment for the flawless diamond—the most expensive physical object ever publicly offered for purchase with cryptocurrency. However, when a crypto buyer failed to emerge, the diamond was sold under the asking price in traditional fiat currency for HK$95.1 million ($12.3 million), disappointing crypto fans who hoped the auction would mark another milestone in the mainstream acceptance of the digital currencies.

But staunch supporters will stick around. Elon Musk tweeted in defense of Dogecoin this morning, which did little to lift the value of the coins.

For now at least, Bitcoin will remain a victim of its own multilayer transaction system with a slow base layer transaction rate. And it’s still under pressure in the markets.

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