The race begins: How ETH futures ETFs fared on day 1

The first ether futures ETFs went live today — and the overall performance was, unsurprisingly to some, rather muted.

Volumes today were nowhere near the volumes the inaugural bitcoin futures offering saw two years ago. Six ether futures ETFs launched by ProShares, Bitwise and VanEck saw trading volumes of roughly $2 million, according to an analysis of Yahoo Finance data.

The ProShares Ether Strategy ETF (EETH) led the way with nearly $900,000 in daily volume, while VanEck’s Ethereum Strategy ETF (EFUT) eclipsed the $400,000 mark. 

Read more: Fight for assets begins as ETH futures ETFs debut

The Valkyrie Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BTF), which is set to change its investment strategy to add ether futures exposure to the fund starting Tuesday, saw roughly $4.5 million in volumes Monday, Yahoo Finance data shows. 

Bloomberg Intelligence Eric Balchunas called initial Monday volumes of the funds “pretty meh” in an X post, noting that the first bitcoin futures ETF did about $200 million in its first 15 minutes. 

That fund, the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO), launched in October 2021. It saw roughly $950 million in trading volume overall on its first day and reached $1 billion in assets under management in two days.  

“This is pretty average day one volume for most ETFs, but arguably disappointing considering how much BITO did,” Balchunas told Blockworks. “That said, it is futures and it is ether — very different than a spot bitcoin ETF, which we expect to fare much better out of the gate.”

Simeon Hyman, global investment strategist at ProShares, said it isn’t fair to compare the first ether futures ETFs to BITO. 

“The bar can’t be BITO; that is a historic, once-in-a-generation type of thing,” Hyman told Blockworks. “We know that the futures solution in an ETF is an efficacious one, as BITO proved that. We know that ether is an important number two cryptocurrency…and we’re optimistic that the three ETFs will grow nicely over time.” 

Bitwise chief investment officer Matt Hougan noted during a Monday webinar that BITO launched at the height of the last bull market. Bitcoin’s price hit its all-time high of roughly $69,000 in the month after the ProShares fund launched.  

“During bull market peaks there’s a huge amount of pent-up demand, and I think that was a major factor,” Hougan said.

Bitcoin is a larger asset than ether, the chief investment officer added. Bitcoin’s (BTC) market capitalization stood at $543 billion on Monday afternoon, while ether’s (ETH) was about $200 billion.

“I’m feeling fairly good about the current state of volume in this space,” Hougan said. “I suspect we’ll see these ETH futures ETFs grow substantially over time.”

Neena Mishra, director of ETF research at Zacks Investment Research, is not so sure about the long-term demand for such products. 

“Many investors are now just waiting for pure exposure via spot ETFs instead of investing in futures ETFs,” she told Blockworks. “There are now hopes that we could see a spot bitcoin ETF approved much sooner than earlier anticipated. The debut of ether spot ETFs would not be far behind.”

Read more: Race for a spot ether ETF begins with bid from Ark Invest, 21Shares

Ether’s recent underperformance isn’t helping either, Mishra added. The asset is up 39% on the year but was down nearly 4% on the day as of 4:45 pm ET. 

“What could change this situation?” Mishra said. “A surge in ether followed by performance chasing by some investors, or clear signals by the [US Securities and Exchange Commission] that they will not approve spot ETFs anytime soon.”

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