Lack of valuation tools leaves cryptocurrencies susceptible to large single participants — or bitcoin whales

Digital-asset prices limped out of the gates Thursday, as investors took stock after Wednesday’s record fall, which saw most major coins post double-digit losses.

After a frantic session that saw bitcoin threaten to make a new low for the year, the No. 1 digital currency is off to a much quieter start, with a single bitcoin

BTCUSD, +2.17%

changing hands at $6,339.63, up 0.4% since Wednesday at 5 p.m. Eastern time on the Kraken cryptocurrency exchange.

As pundits sought to explain Wednesday’s decline, Element Digital Asset Management said the lack of pricing information in the cryptocurrency market leaves coins susceptible to significant price swings driven by single entities, often referred to as bitcoin whales.

“Unlike other mature asset classes that have very metrics based fair value models that tend not deviate much from one another, the concept of fair value with bitcoin can have a huge variance,” wrote Element’s portfolio director, Thejas Nalval, and Kevin Lu, the firm’s director of quantitative research.

“How large market participants that are organic in the supply chain interpret news events such as yesterday is more likely to drive short term price action than any single person or entity preaching technical levels or evangelizing the value of bitcoin using theoretical models.”

Read: SEC delay on cryptocurrency ETF is more a speed bump than a red flag, market insiders say

Ripple clawing back some losses

Altcoins, or digital coins other than bitcoin, have begun Thursday in quiet fashion. Ether

ETHUSD, +1.49%

is down 0.2% at $358.45, Bitcoin Cash

BCHUSD, +3.23%

is trading higher by 0.9% at $596.70, Litecoin

LTCUSD, +0.18%

is down 1.2% at $62.07 and Ripple’s XRP

XRPUSD, +4.25%

, after plummeting more than 15% Wednesday, has regained some ground, trading up 2.7% at 34 cents.

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After a session to forget on Wednesday, futures have had a subdued start to Thursday’s trading. The Cboe Global Markets Inc.’s August contract

XBTQ8, +2.26%

unchanged at $6,305 and the CME Group Inc.’s August contract

BTCQ8, +1.82%

is down 0.1% at $6,325.

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