Ether drops faster than bitcoin, spelling trouble for altcoins (Cryptocurrency:ETH-USD)

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As the cryptocurrency market faces a rapid downturn, ethereum (ETH-USD) is falling at a faster pace than bitcoin (BTC-USD) in a move that could bode poorly for altcoin sentiment.

Bitcoin (BTC-USD -6.3%) is extending losses to $22.1K as of shortly before 9:00 a.m. ET, down ~65% from its all-time high of $67.5K in November 2021. Meanwhile, ether (ETH-USD -1.5%) is dipping to $1.19K in Monday morning trading, off nearly 75% from its November peak.

In turn, the ether-to-bitcoin ratio is plunging to 0.05 compared with 0.06 a month ago and a peak of 0.11 in June 2017, according to TradingView data. “It is a sign that the broader crypto enthusiasm is waning as investments are being taken out of the more volatile “alternative-coins,” Morgan Stanley analyst Sheena Shah wrote in a note.

Shah added that Ether’s (ETH-USD) 2020-2022 cycle resembles the 2017-2018 cycle in relative performance terms but not U.S. dollar terms. “The potential difference in the current price cycle is that it is largely institutional crypto participants selling as opposed to 2018 when retail participant trading activity was much higher.”

Following 2017’s retail-driven frenzy in crypto, ether (ETH-USD), the largest altcoin by market cap, tanked 92% peak-to-trough in 2018, according to the note. Similarly, bitcoin (BTC-USD) cratered 84% peak-to-trough at the time. These more extended drawdowns (compared with this year) may have some questioning whether there’s more downside ahead for bitcoin and ether.

To shed some light on what the current state of crypto winter looks like, the top 1K largest cryptos by market cap are down 88% on average from their peak prices, while the top 100 tokens are off 82%, the note said. The downturn comes as speculators broadly shun riskier assets in the wake of persistently high consumer price inflation and developed central banks’ tightening cycles.

Furthermore, the Crypto Fear & Greed Index, a popular gauge of speculators’ sentiment on major tokens, is signaling “extreme fear” (8), improving slightly from 11 on Monday and 15 last week, according to data from Alternative.

The crypto sell-off gained more steam after centralized crypto lending platform Celsius paused all customer withdrawals given a lack of crypto and fiat liquidity. Shortly thereafter, crypto exchange Binance briefly paused user bitcoin (BTC-USD) withdrawals amid high market volatility.

Earlier, bitcoin and ether deepen their slump, pulling MicroStrategy stock down further.