Bitcoin Return to $40,000 in Doubt as Grayscale Fund Flows Slow

Rows of colored high end data cables are seen feeding into racks of computer servers inside a comms room at an office in London, U.K., on Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014. Vodafone Group Plc will ask telecommunications regulator Ofcom to guarantee that U.K. wireless carriers, which rely on BT's fiber network to transmit voice and data traffic across the country, are treated fairly when BT sets prices and connects their broadcasting towers. Photographer: Bloomberg/Bloomberg
Rows of colored high end data cables are seen feeding into racks of computer servers inside a comms room at an office in London, U.K., on Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014. Vodafone Group Plc will ask telecommunications regulator Ofcom to guarantee that U.K. wireless carriers, which rely on BT's fiber network to transmit voice and data traffic across the country, are treated fairly when BT sets prices and connects their broadcasting towers. Photographer: Bloomberg/Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- Cryptocurrency enthusiasts counting on Bitcoin to bounce back above the $40,000 level face a challenge due to faltering demand for the biggest fund tracking the digital asset, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.

The pace of flows into the $20 billion Grayscale Bitcoin Trust “appears to have peaked” based on four-week rolling averages, JPMorgan strategists led by Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou said in a note Friday. The fund slid 22% over the past two weeks through Jan. 22, outpacing a 17% drop in Bitcoin in the same period.

Read: Biggest Crypto Fund’s 40% Premium Evaporates During Meltdown

“At the moment, the institutional flow impulse behind the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust is not strong enough for Bitcoin to break out above $40,000,” the strategists said. They added that the “risk is that momentum traders will continue to unwind Bitcoin futures positions.”

Bitcoin’s red-hot rally lost momentum after the largest cryptocurrency reached a peak of almost $42,000 on Jan. 8. Proponents argue institutional interest has helped bolster Bitcoin’s use as a hedge against dollar weakness and inflation, while skeptics maintain the latest surge is yet another speculative bubble, akin to the 2017 mania that preceded a rapid collapse.

“The near-term balance of risks is still skewed to the downside,” the JPMorgan strategists said.

In a separate analysis, Adam James with OKEx Insights found at least some long-term Bitcoin holders -- so-called “whales” -- and miners likely sold to institutional investors during the 2020 rally, as the average age of coins traded rose starting in October and has remained elevated since.

“Old-school Bitcoiners sold some of their old bags to new institutional buyers with extremely large new bags to fill,” James wrote. OKEx Insights is affiliated with crypto exchange OKEx.

Bitcoin advanced about 2% to $32,700 as of 11:43 a.m. in Tokyo on Monday. The digital coin is still sitting on a gain of some 260% over the past year, despite shedding around $10,000 from this month’s all-time high.