Bitcoin (BTC) starts the last full week of February above $52,000 — a fresh two-year record for the weekly close. BTC price strength shows little sign of reversing downward as bulls propel the market ever closer to all-time highs. What does the road ahead have in store? Traders and market observers are as conflicted as ever over the timing, but consensus increasingly calls for further upside. Bitcoin has successfully navigated turbulence from the year’s major events to date, and with the block subsidy halving now just two months away, bets are on for a rally in classic fashion. The picture farther out looks less predictable — BTC/USD may top later in 2024 before beginning a “secular” bear market, analysis warns this week, while the overall potency of the halving when it comes to price action is also under the microscope. Add to that the turbulent macroeconomic and geopolitical status quo in the United States and beyond and it is all the more clear that crypto volatility catalysts are waiting at every turn. Cointelegraph takes a refreshed look at the major issues impacting BTC price action and how they might play out in the coming days into the February monthly close. Weekly close sends Bitcoin back to November 2021 Bitcoin put in a decidedly triumphant weekly close on Feb. 18 — its highest since November 2021 at around $52,100, per data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro and TradingView. BTC/USD 1-week chart. Source: TradingView This takes the market symbolically near the peak of what was then euphoria — a blow-off top at $69,000. Predictions for how the week would end had varied, with various support levels on the radar should the market reverse at the last minute. In the event, however, little volatility came, leading to $52,000 holding into the Asia trading session. “Bitcoin consolidating at $52,000 with the total market capitalization at $1.9T,” Michaël van de Poppe, founder and CEO of trading firm MNTrading, wrote in a summary on X (formerly Twitter). Van de Poppe expressed what is currently a popular theory when it comes to short-term BTC price performance — another leg higher before returning to test the mettle of recent gains. “The upside looks relatively capped for Bitcoin,” he continued. “My overall thesis is a continuation to $54-58K and then consolidation & broader correction. After that, rotation towards Altcoins.” Change has nonetheless evaded spot markets for most of the past week, with $52,000 and its associated resistance liquidity forming a “sticky” focal point. Joining in the near-term forecasting, Venturefounder, a contributor to on-chain analytics platform CryptoQuant, agreed with the $58,000 target. His basis, however, revolves around relative strength index (RSI) behavior. “If all follows, then the last BTC RSI peak signals breakout of downward channel, will push price higher (~$58k), then followed by a correction and this level will be made into strong support going forward (~$50k),” he concluded. #Bitcoin cycles are never the same, but it often rhymes: 1) Weekly RSI completing a bottoming movement, from lower highs, lower lows to higher highs and higher lows 2) Following the cycle top, The first three RSI peaks > 50 will have a strong reaction at resistance (either… pic.twitter.com/OW59mXPjdL — venturefoundΞr (@venturefounder) February 19, 2024 Over the weekend, Venturefounder, whose BTC price takes tend to err on the side of caution in the current environment, acknowledged the strong performance despite the spot Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) making no purchases. As Cointelegraph continues to report, these form a major change to market dynamics, which has been in place for barely a month. “Honestly Bitcoin is holding up pretty well considered there is no daily 9-figure spot #BTC ETF buys on the weekend,” he summarized. “I think a degree of that is non-ETF buyers expecting continuation of the strong ETF net inflow and therefore buying the dip, essentially trying to front run the price next week.” Halving cycles spark contention The debate around the halving and its impact on price is getting ever more vocal with less than two months to go. For some, price performance in recent months — especially amid the emergence of institutional access via the U.S. spot ETFs — calls for a reevaluation of standard Bitcoin market cycles. The four-year circle revolving around halving events, they suggest, is seeing a challenge thanks to shifts in price coming at unusual times. #Bitcoin has made historyFor the first time ever, BTC has closed a weekly candle above the .618 FIB retrace from cycle high to cycle low prior to the halving: https://t.co/URAGEtuWKJ pic.twitter.com/MuhXMdrHF9 — Matthew Hyland (@MatthewHyland_) February 19, 2024 As Cointelegraph reported, others see the current cycles as “business as usual” — a cycle top should come months after the halving or even later. In some of his latest X engagement, popular trader and analyst Credible Crypto continued that narrative. “Is this time REALLY different? OR is it possible that this time is the SAME as all the prior times except people think it’s different because they have erroneously been using the halving as the single point of reference for our cycles?” he queried. Credible Crypto linked to a previous post from late last year in which he imagined a top in late 2024, followed by what he called the “first major secular Bitcoin bear market.” “In the coming months I expect further continuation upwards, at a more aggressive pace than we have seen thus far, as we build up to what will be a blow-off top for the books to conclude this multi-year cycle,” part of the post read. Before April’s halving, however, there remains plenty of opportunity for gains, as envisioned by fellow trader and analyst Rekt Capital, who notes that previous cycles saw a “pre-halving rally” beginning two months in advance. “BTC has one final Pre Halving Retrace left,” he added last week. “Historically, it tends to occur only a few weeks before the Halving.” Bitcoin price comparison. Source: Rekt Capital/X Global liquidity conditions favor crypto Caution marks the mood among macro analysts this week after recent U.S. inflation data gave the Federal Reserve a major headache. Prices, as shown by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Producer Price Index (PPI), advanced more than expected in January. Markets, which were previously confident that the Fed would U-turn on interest rate policy and reduce quantitative tightening (QT) as soon as March, quickly reevaluated the odds. This in turn dampens the tone for risk assets, which appreciate increasing liquidity as a basis for investor interest. That said, with the S&P 500 hitting all-time highs this month, a certain divergence between market performance and macro reality continues to play out. As Philip Swift, creator of Bitcoin statistics platform Look Into Bitcoin, noted, global liquidity conditions are conversely better than ever — a possible crypto catalyst in itself. “We are getting closer to Global Liquidity making a new all-time high,” he showed on X earlier in February alongside a chart of M2 money supply. “Arguably THE most important factor for a bull market. That's when the party really starts for bitcoin.” Global M2 money supply s. BTC/USD chart. Source: Philip Swift/X In the U.S., however, there remains plenty to unnerve markets and induce a more hawkish stance at the Fed prior to its next interest rates decision at the end of March. This week will see jobless claims and the minutes of the Fed’s January meeting, alongside the S&P Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) leading the pack, alongside various speaking appearances from Fed officials. Key Events This Week:1. Presidents Day, Markets Closed - Monday2. Fed Meeting Minutes - Wednesday3. S&P Global Services PMI data - Thursday4. Existing Home Sales data - Thursday5. Total of 5 Fed speaker events this week6. ~15% of S&P 500 companies report earnings… — The Kobeissi Letter (@KobeissiLetter) February 18, 2024 “We're watching the Fed minutes for color on rate cut timing,” trading resource The Kobeissi Letter announced in part of its weekly diary post on X. “Rate cuts are now being pushed out to June.” Bitcoin open interest matches 26-month record Recent days have seen a new all-time high in open interest (OI) for CME Group’s flagship Bitcoin futures. At $6.8 billion, OI saw a pronounced spike this month as ETF inflows surged and BTC price action delivered a return above key resistance levels. Now, a similar phenomenon is playing out elsewhere. According to the latest data from CoinGlass, total exchange OI hit $22.8 billion on Feb. 19, marking the highest levels since Bitcoin’s $69,000 all-time high. Bitcoin futures open interest (screenshot). Source: CoinGlass OI spikes have preceded periods of BTC price upside throughout recent months, but as analysts note, the volatility can run both ways. “Bitcoin is at a point where fresh positioning is very risky. The open interest on all coins reaches levels equal to the 2021 highs,” CryptoQuant contributor J.A. Maartunn warned last week. “Yes, the price can run higher, but the risk-reward ratio is NOT favorable.” #Bitcoin Open Interest is up only since February.It increased by +$3.3 Billion or +32%.Spot premium & Funding rates still neutral so that's good. pic.twitter.com/dSa0YmZEn2 — Daan Crypto Trades (@DaanCrypto) February 12, 2024 Countering the risk of a snap downside move are funding rates and leverage, both of which remain at comparatively manageable levels and suggest an overall lack of “irrational exuberance” among traders. Crypto sentiment drifts into "extreme greed" When it comes to cross-crypto sentiment, there are increasing signs that the average investor is reaching a state of euphoria. Related: Bitcoin price unlikely to hit all-time high before the halving — Here’s why The latest readings from the Crypto Fear & Greed Index show the highest levels of “greed” since the 2021 Bitcoin all-time high. Last week, the Index produced a score of 79/100, corresponding to “extreme greed” and briefly beating those 2021 levels. At the time of writing, Fear & Greed, itself a lagging indicator, stood at 75/100. Crypto Fear & Greed Index (screenshot). Source: Alternative.me “Absolute bullishness begets corrections. In 2021, after almost everyone is convinced there’s more upside after seeing $69k ATH, BTC rug pulled,” Venturefounder commented on market psychology over the weekend. “In Oct 2023, almost everyone is convinced $BTC will break below $25k again. Bitcoin doubled in few months without a major correction.” Fear & Greed historically flags an inbound long-term market correction when it reaches 90 or higher — something which has not occurred since Q1 2021. This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.