(Bloomberg) -- Bitcoin’s share of the cryptocurrency market is climbing toward levels last seen in 2021, a sign of the cautious mood in digital assets as investors favor the largest token.

Bitcoin accounts for 48.5% of the crypto market’s $1.1 trillion value, up from 38% at the start of 2023, CoinGecko data show. Speculators tend to ditch smaller tokens when risks are thought to be mounting for digital assets.

One example of that tendency comes from second-ranked Ether, which has shed 6% so far this quarter even as Bitcoin added 2%. Exchange-traded funds investing in Ether futures debuted in the US in October but failed to gain much traction, a blow for arguments that crypto adoption is bound to expand.

Bitcoin’s outperformance of alternative coins bolstered its “longstanding claim to provide a safe haven, or at least diversification benefit, to traditional markets investments,” said Caroline Mauron, co-founder of digital-asset derivatives liquidity provider OrBit Markets.

Crypto is grappling with the prospect of an extended period of elevated borrowing costs, as well as a stark reminder of the risks in the sector from the ongoing US trial of Sam Bankman-Fried over the collapse of the FTX exchange.

Even so, some investors are pinning their hopes on seasonal and technical patterns. Over the past decade, Bitcoin on average rose 24% in October, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. 

The token also climbed for four straight weeks through Oct. 8. Data from the past 10 years shows that Bitcoin tends to add 16% over the subsequent month after such a stretch.

Fizzling Performance

For now, a partial rebound in digital assets from last year’s rout is fizzling. Bitcoin’s year-to-date revival peaked at 90% in July but has cooled to 67%. Ether’s year-to-date bounce hit 77% in April but now stands at 32%.

The gravitational pull in crypto remains with Bitcoin for the moment, according to Vetle Lunde, senior analyst at K33 Research. The slow progress of the Ether futures ETFs points to “very low institutional demand to add Ether exposure,” he said.

Bitcoin was little changed at $27,677 as of 11 a.m. in Singapore on Tuesday. Ether was steady at $1,588. Other major tokens posted small gains or losses.

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.