The month of October, celebrated as "Uptober" by long-time crypto investors, has historically churned out some big gains for bitcoin. In seven of the last 10 years, bitcoin has posted a positive month. Most recently, it notched a 40% gain 2021 in, after posting 28% and 10% increases in 2020 and 2019, respectively. That's according to spot exchange closing prices tracked by data provider CryptoQuant. For four of the last six years, ether has ended the October trading month higher, according to Kaiko. This October, however, price action has been lackluster. Bitcoin hasn't broken out of the $19,000 level meaningfully in weeks, and with crypto in a bear market, the possibility of posting a losing October is greater than usual. Bitcoin was lower for the month by 0.3% as of Tuesday, while ether was down 1.4%, according to Coin Metrics. "Crypto market volatility has dipped to multi-year lows over the past month, with bitcoin's 20-day volatility now equal to that of the Nasdaq equity index," Kaiko head of research Clara Medalie told CNBC. "Throughout October, bitcoin broke $20,000 just once on the 6th, before retracing, at one point dipping below $18,000," she added. "Overall, daily trade volumes in October are on average less than what was observed last October, which was the month before bitcoin broke all-time highs above $60,000." Katie Stockton, a charts analyst and founder of Fairlead Strategies, said bitcoin is retesting its 50-day moving average, adding that said she remains bearish in the intermediate term — citing elevated risk of a breakdown that could take bitcoin to near $13,900. Despite oversold conditions, long-term momentum is still negative, she said, noting there's no evidence yet of a long-term low. Macro risks and retail investors The price action may feel a bit stuck to some, but many are celebrating bitcoin's relative stability and have noted that while stock averages fell again to retest their summer lows, bitcoin held steady — even if it was 70% below its November all-time high. Part of the reason for the uncharacteristically and consistently low volatility as of late is that crypto traders began pricing in the Federal Reserve's interest rate hikes earlier than equities investors did, according to Greg Magadini, CEO of Genesis Volatility. "Crypto had its meltdown back in May and June," he said. "The crypto space has been ahead of the curve and is now taking a breather, while equities are now having their moment worrying about federal rate hikes." Bitcoin's outperformance in the first and third quarters of the year has also helped validate the idea that crypto's big crash in the spring was primarily the result of the fallout of the Terra project and the contagion that spread to Three Arrows, Voyager, Celsius and others. Some are beginning to wonder if bitcoin could be at the beginning of its decoupling from stocks, which many trace back to the beginning of the year, after institutional investors started to enter the market and the Fed introduced its rate hiking plan. It remains to be seen how cryptocurrencies, currently flat for the month, finish October. Investors are looking for a new use case or catalyst to bring new interest to crypto, but many have come to terms with the fact that crypto is largely macro driven for now. "Crypto could be more sensitive to longer-term yields crawling any higher than they are right now," said Callie Cox, U.S. investment analyst at eToro. "While the stock market could find some momentum in a better-than-expected earnings season, crypto could be held down by the belief that a resilient economy could encourage the Fed to swing its hammer harder. Interest-rate sensitivity has been a big differentiator in sector and asset class returns lately." She also added that, despite the wave of institutional investment that has joined the market this and last year, cryptocurrencies are still largely retail-driven and therefore more sensitive to retail investors wanting to cut risk from their portfolios this year. "We haven't seen much of that yet, but we are seeing investors become more defensive because they're increasingly concerned about the economy," Cox said. "People invest when they have cash on hand, and if retail pulls back on investing because they need to pay bills or build up an emergency fund, we could see the after-effects in riskier markets like crypto."