Bitcoin (BTC) is almost unrecognizable as it kicks off the first week of work of 2021, retains $ 30,000 in support, and hits astronomical new highs.

Hard to believe for hodlers, price action continues to wow as Monday kicks in, and the focus is on what could be next.

Cointelegraph takes a look at five factors that investors may want to keep an eye on for the next few days in what is one of the most volatile Bitcoin trading markets in history.

Stocks peaked as Bitcoin ‘flips’ the Dow

It’s another curious week for equities as last week’s all-time highs on several indices are expected to continue.

As the first days of the new year drew to a close, the Dow Jones and S&P 500 hit record highs – despite the advancing coronavirus that led to increasingly severe lockdowns around the world.

For Bitcoiners, the Dow took on a different kind of meaning last week, with BTC / USD ‘flipping’ its 30,600 points for the first time as it progressed to $ 34,000 and above.

This week, analysts predict that stocks will rise even higher, as part of a long-awaited rebound that, like last year, seems contrary to the situation on the ground.

“A strong vaccine-led recovery in global growth will provide a major boost to cyclical assets, including commodities, cyclical equities and emerging markets,” Goldman Sachs told Bloomberg as part of its 2021 outlook survey.

“The path can be tricky, however, as the market balances weak growth with a more supportive outlook.”

Not everyone was so optimistic. Fidelity, the asset manager known for pioneering work pro-Bitcoin attitude, objected:

“2021 is likely to be about taking advantage of relative opportunities as investors value economic and virus-related developments.”

Bitcoin vs. stock correlation table. Source: Digital Assets data

Holes in the future can remain unfilled forever

After raking in $ 34,800 over the weekend, Bitcoin certainly seems in need of a consolidation period as the week goes on.

The highs, which still seem unreal to many investors, have enough hurdles to overcome to defend themselves and not allow Bitcoin to give in to the bears.

One of the most pressing issues for traders is the “gap” in Bitcoin futures caused by the weekend’s volatility. The gap is between $ 29,695 and $ 32,400, joining last week’s difference as one of the largest ever on the Bitcoin futures chart.

Bitcoin futures 1-day candle chart (CME) with visible gaps. Source: TradingView

As Cointelegraph explained earlier, “gaps” in futures are the price differences between the end of futures trading on a Friday and the start on the following Monday. When heavy volatility hits in between, the resulting void often forms a short-term price target.

So in this case, Bitcoin has an impulse to retest the levels at just under $ 30,000. If it wants to fill in lower gaps that have not yet been tested, the market could drop even further – the well of last weekend’s hole is at $ 23,800.

While many gaps have been filled in recent months, the idea of ​​a $ 24,000 Bitcoin is now a remote possibility, according to popular statistician Willy Woo.

“We will never see $ 20k BTC again,” he prediction on Sunday.

“Support of $ 24,000 would take a Black Swan event to fail. The reserve price supported by long-term buyers is rising very quickly. “

$ 20,000 itself is an interesting zone for those studying gaps, with two major vacuums in futures markets still open below that significant level.

Difficulty, hash rate on track for new records

In the meantime, things are all changing for the better under Bitcoin’s core fundamentals. After a month of minor decreases, the network difficulty has been reset to push up to hit new all-time highs.

With the next automatic adjustment later this week, the difficulty is currently expected to increase by just over 5%.

The last two adjustments showed declines of 2.5% and 0.4% respectively, an interesting contrast to the rapid rise in the spot price observed simultaneously.

Difficulty is arguably the most important technical aspect of Bitcoin when it comes to its status as “hard” money, essentially allowing the network to run itself and remain secure regardless of miner participation or price action.

Along with the difficulty, the hash rate is also an all-time challenge. As of Monday, the seven-day mean values ​​for the metric stand at 145 exahashes per second (EH / s), just 1 EH / s lower than last October’s record highs.

The hash rate refers to the computational power devoted to joining the Bitcoin network, and current data suggests that participation and the desire to keep the network secure is stronger than ever.

Bitcoin 7-day average hash rate 6-month chart. Source: Blockchain

Ether returns to $ 1,000 after three years

Perhaps the most telling sign when it comes to the price trajectory comes from within the cryptocurrency itself.

While Bitcoin alone is impressive, this weekend ended with an even more noticeable rise in altcoins, and specifically Ether (ETH). The largest altcoin is up more than 30% in the last 24 hours alone, pushing its weekly profit above 50%.

Such as Cointelegraph reportedSunday saw it hit a key level against BTC, and in dollars, the largest altcoin is back in four digits for the first time in three years.

Bitcoin vs. Ether year-to-date 2021. Source: Digital Assets Data

In the words of CoinTelegraph Markets analyst Michaël van de Poppesuch a move suggests that a return of “altseason” – a period of rapid rises in altcoin markets as Bitcoin consolidates – has de facto arrived.

“Another week when Ethereum will close above the crucial threshold on the BTC pair,” he said noticed late Sunday.

“Probably some sideways continuation for upward continuation to a new higher high. 2021 looks bright for Ethereum. “

The token’s success took a long time. Ether spent much of 2020 as the butt of jokes among Bitcoiners, as even the release of the highly anticipated Ethereum 2.0 protocol transformation had no noticeable impact on price.

Nonetheless, the altcoin was in fact the best investment of the year, outperforming Bitcoin from its March lows when it was trading at just $ 113 – one-tenth of its current level.

ETH / USD 1-day candle chart (Bitstamp). Source: TradingView

Here comes the whole season!

As Ether dictates the resurgence of altcoins, like THETAFor example, it is already clear when one examines the state of Bitcoin’s market dominance.

As the ETH / USD rose overnight on Sunday, the share of the total market cap of cryptocurrency owned by Bitcoin began to decline dramatically. From 73.5% earlier on Sunday, press time levels are more at 68.3%, the data shows.

Bitcoin market cap dominance 1-day candle chart. Source: TradingView

That kind of behavior is a classic altseason indicator, and will remind longtime hodlers of the events of January 2018. At the time, Bitcoin fell from highs of nearly $ 20,000, but altcoins exploded as ETH / USD hit current all-time highs. of $ 1,500.

Given that Bitcoin has managed to smash its own 2017 record, it is that pattern of behavior that is fueling speculation that Ether and other altcoins will move much higher in the near term.

“Bitcoin and ether ETH are already the biggest hits of 2021,” said Tyler Winklevoss, co-founder of exchange Gemini, summarized to Twitter followers.