Activity on bitcoin (BTC) options suggests rising bearish sentiment among investors as the asset ranges between the $29,000 and $30,000 price levels.
Bitcoin dropped to nearly $24,000 in the past week amid systemic risks within the crypto ecosystem and inflation fears in the broader market. The asset has slid for seven straight weeks as of Friday.
The asset's price movements have been highly correlated to the U.S. markets in the past few months, with poor earnings reports and hawkish comments from the Federal Reserve (Fed) showing an impact on bitcoin prices.
Investors are placing bets accordingly.
Put/call ratios for bitcoin open interest hit a 12-month high of 0.72 yesterday, research firm Delphi said in a note Friday, adding that the data indicated "bearish sentiment among investors." Similar ratio levels were reached last May.
"The put/call ratio measures the amount of put buying relative to calls," Delphi analysts explained in the note. "A high put/call ratio indicates that investors are speculating whether bitcoin will continue to sell off, or it could mean investors are hedging their portfolios against a downward move."
"Last April, the put/call ratio traded as high as 0.96 before Bitcoin's price dropped over 50% in May 2021," the firm added.
Put options are a contract that gives the option buyer the right, but not the obligation, to sell a specified amount of an underlying asset at a given price. Call options, on the hand, allow call buyers to purchase the asset at a predetermined price in the future.
At the time of writing, there over 63,000 bitcoin worth of open interest on options are set to expire on May 27.
Thursday's surge in the put/call ratios surpassed previous 2022 highs of 0.69 in February, and are up 38% from one-year lows of 0.44 in December, data from analytics tool skew shows.
Crypto exchange Deribit leads options volumes with over $7 billion in open interest as of May 17. Those levels are a recovery from late last month, which saw a $2 billion plunge in open interest over two days from April 28 to April 30.