Bitcoin’s next breakout may have nothing to do with stock prices rising

Wall Street's first analyst to cover bitcoin is debunking a popular bitcoin investment strategy.

According to DataTrek Research co-founder Nick Colas, a vast number of investors erroneously believe that if the stock market rallies, so will bitcoin.

His finding is based on correlation analysis that goes back to the beginning of last year.

"Bitcoin doesn't necessarily go along for the ride," Colas said Wednesday on CNBC's "Trading Nation."

Bitcoin prices and stocks may not rise in tandem, but he did detect one clear trend that could be useful for investors.

"During the recent market drawdown in the early part of February, the correlation was really high. As stocks went down, bitcoin went down," Colas said. "Bitcoin faded just like a stock. However, as stocks began to rebound that correlation fell apart."

Colas, who owns a quarter of one bitcoin (worth about $2,700), contends investors may be better served by using a highly accessible strategy that relies only on an internet connection.

"The precursor for opening a wallet for many people is just googling the term 'bitcoin,' 'how to buy a bitcoin wallet,' 'how to buy a bitcoin' and so forth. So, as bitcoin searches go up, it's a precursor to bitcoin prices appreciating as well," he said.

The correlation was particularly significant between Thanksgiving and Dec. 17, when bitcoin was surging to its $19,843 record. Since then, the emerging asset has plunged 45 percent and is now bouncing along the $10,000 level.

Bitcoin's next catalyst

For bitcoin to stage another breakout, Colas says it would take a major announcement from a retailer such as Amazon about using it for payment. Right now, price volatility and underdeveloped technology is a roadblock.

Even though he doesn't see a near-term surge, he is far from bearish. His 2018 average price for bitcoin is $14,000 — noting that there is a fair amount of crossover between people who own bitcoin and stocks.

"It's such a polar discussion with people. We have clients who love it [bitcoin], and clients who hate it. And, there's really nobody in the middle," Colas said. "Every day it doesn't go to zero is another day it lives. And, every day above ground is a good one. That applies for people and bitcoin."

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Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's “Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET).   In addition, he contributes to CNBCand CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

Follow Michael Santoli on Twitter @michaelsantoli

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