Is bitcoin’s ETF-fueled rally to $35K premature? Well, maybe

“Rumors are generating a buying signal, but the news might be a different story,” industry exec says amid apparent bullish signals for such proposals

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Volodymyr Plysiuk/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks

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Bitcoin’s price eclipsed $35,000 late Monday in a rally apparently spurred — at least in part — by optimism around the approval of bitcoin ETFs in the US that would hold the asset directly. 

While certain signals look bullish for such proposals, observers say that the US Securities and Exchange Commission is still mulling the merits of a swathe of applications — and could take its sweet time.

The bitcoin ETF proposed by asset management giant BlackRock — complete with ticker IBTC — was listed on the website of the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC) website, industry watchers pointed out Monday. 

DTCC is a market infrastructure giant that processes trillions of dollars in securities transactions daily. The listing included the planned ETF’s CUSIP — a nine-character code needed to identify a North American security for the clearing and settlement of trades.

Read more: BlackRock takes apparent new step in bitcoin ETF prep

The BlackRock-related developments “excited the market,” according to Lucas Kiely, chief investment officer of digital wealth platform Yield App. But, he noted: “it remains to be seen whether this is a premature move, as no official approval has been announced.”

But BlackRock’s proposed iShares Bitcoin Trust was no longer on the DTCC list as of Tuesday. Bloomberg Intelligence senior analyst Eric Balchunas said in an X post he was “not totally shocked” by the change, noting BlackRock might wait until a potential launch is closer.

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“Bear in mind the old saying: ‘Buy the rumor, sell the news,’” said Stefan Rust, CEO of inflation data aggregator Truflation. “Right now, rumors are generating a buying signal, but the news might be a different story.”

Beyond the BlackRock developments, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals formalized Grayscale’s court victory over the SEC Monday. In addition, various prospective ETF issuers have amended ETF filings in recent weeks — with Ark Invest CEO Cathie Wood saying her firm’s updates followed dialogue with the regulator.

While many agree that signs point to a spot bitcoin ETF being closer to approval than perhaps ever before, a launch — if indeed permitted by the SEC — could still be weeks or months away.

Joe Carlasare, a partner at law firm Amundsen Davis, noted in an Oct. 15 X post that the public has until Oct. 25 to submit comments on the BlackRock bitcoin ETF application. People can then reply to the comments of others by Nov. 8, he said, at which point a 30- or 60-day window typically begins for comment review.

“The SEC does not typically approve rule changes or similar proposals until the comment request period is complete,” he wrote in the X post. “Therefore, if a spot ETF gets the green light in 2023, it probably won’t be from BlackRock.” 

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The SEC’s deadline to rule on a proposed ETF by Ark Invest and 21Shares — the first issuers to file in the latest wave of bitcoin ETF application — is Jan. 10. Deadlines on proposals by BlackRock, Fidelity and others fall in March, though analysts have told Blockworks that the SEC, if it permits bitcoin ETFs, could allow multiple to launch at once.

Sumit Roy, a senior analyst at ETF.com, said it’s become hard to ignore the signs “piling up” that suggest a spot bitcoin ETF approval is coming soon. 

“On the other hand, pushing against the idea that approval is imminent is the SEC’s long history of hostility towards a spot bitcoin ETF,” Roy said. “Maybe the SEC comes up with a last minute ploy to deny spot bitcoin ETFs again.”

He added: “But for those of us who can’t read the regulator’s mind, the best evidence we have is pointing towards an approval. It’s not guaranteed, but the probabilities are the highest they’ve been in a long time.”


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