Bitcoin falls to $40,000, lowest level since bitcoin ETF launch

(Reuters) -Bitcoin fell to a seven-week low on Monday, hovering below $40,000 for the first time since the launch of 11 spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds on Jan. 11.

The world’s largest cryptocurrency was last down 3.98% at $39,938.00, trading at its lowest since Dec. 4 after a brief recovery. Ether, the second largest cryptocurrency, was down 6.37% at $2,328.30.

Bitcoin had rallied on growing excitement the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) would approve bitcoin ETFs, opening up the cryptocurrency to a slew of new investors. Bitcoin gained around 70% from August, when a federal court forced the SEC to review its decision to reject Grayscale Investment’s bitcoin ETF application.

Some analysts said they had expected bitcoin to initially pare some of those gains.

Other market-watchers said on Monday the cryptocurrency was having trouble competing with traditional stocks after the S&P 500 benchmark index notched fresh record highs on Monday driven by semiconductor and other tech stocks.

“It feels like bitcoin investors are running up a descending escalator right now as traditional financial benchmarks enjoy the easier ride to record highs,” said Antoni Trenchev, co-founder of crypto lender Nexo.

He noted previous major crypto events, including the initial public offering of crypto exchange Coinbase and the launch of bitcoin futures, were followed by similar bitcoin slumps.

Trenchev said bitcoin was also pressured by outflows from Grayscale Investment’s bitcoin trust, which was converted into an ETF when the SEC approved the other bitcoin ETF products earlier this month.

CoinDesk reported on Monday that FTX, which entered bankruptcy in 2022, has sold 22 million shares worth close to $1 billion in the ETF.

“Spot bitcoin ETFs are in danger of joining the … crypto hall of infamy,” Trenchev said.

(Reporting by Alden Bentley, Michelle Price and Hannah Lang;Editing by Chris Reese, Nick Zieminski and Richard Chang)