Not again?! Elon Musk’s ‘trolling’ puts brakes on bitcoin’s rebound

June 4, 2021 - 1:58 PM
Representations of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Dash, Ethereum, Ripple and Litecoin are seen in this illustration picture taken June 2, 2021. (Reuters/Florence Lo, file)
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SINGAPORE — Bitcoin slipped 4% on Friday after Tesla boss Elon Musk was at it again – this time firing off a few tweets that appeared to lament a breakup with the cryptocurrency.

Tesla’s big position in bitcoin and Musk’s large personal following often set crypto markets on edge whenever he tweets, and the price fell after he posted “#Bitcoin”, a broken-heart emoji and a picture of a couple discussing a breakup.

Musk followed that up by posting a breakup comic strip and replying “nice” to an illustration of rival crypto dogecoin posted by crypto exchange Coinbase. It was unclear what, if anything, any of the tweets meant.

Musk has previously said Tesla would not sell its bitcoin, but his tweets were enough to unsettle markets still fragile following May’s crash.

“He’s trolling the community,” said Bobby Ong, co-founder of crypto data aggregator and analytics website CoinGecko.

Friday’s fall pushed bitcoin below its 20-day moving average to $37,710, and took some of the edge off its week-to-date gains – though it has still climbed nearly 6% to put it on course for its best week in about a month.

Musk has been a major promoter of cryptocurrencies but has turned critical of bitcoin since suspending Tesla plans to take it in payment for cars, owing to concerns about its energy use.

Bitcoin and several other cryptocurrencies are still recovering from a crash last month in the wake of that decision and on news of renewed regulatory scrutiny in China.

Telsa stock has now fallen by a third since it announced a $1.5 billion bitcoin purchase in February, and bitcoin is more than 40% below April’s record peak of $64,895.22.

The second-biggest cryptocurrency ether wasn’t spared by sellers either, slipping around 4% on Friday to $2,750, but it still looks on course for a second consecutive weekly gain of greater than 10%.

Dogecoin, perhaps the most sensitive to Musk’s opinions as he helped to turn it around from a joke at the bottom of the value heap to a multi-billion dollar market valuation, also slipped slightly before it steadied just under $0.40 on Friday.

It is up about 40% since Sunday. — Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Tom Hogue & Shri Navaratnam