02/02 update below. This post was originally published on January 31
Subscribe now to Forbes’ CryptoAsset & Blockchain Advisor and successfully navigate the latest bitcoin and crypto market crash
02/02 update: The bitcoin price surged after the U.S. Federal Reserve followed through with its well-telegraphed quarter-point interest rate hike, taking the federal funds rate to a range of between 4.5% and 4.75%, its highest level since September 2007.
“The Fed’s policy is, in fact, fluid and they could lean toward pausing their rate hikes sooner than they planned to depending on incoming data,” Yuya Hasegawa, crypto market analyst at Tokyo-based Bitbank, said in emailed comments. “However, while inflation in the states is decelerating, it is still running high and ‘remains elevated’ as the statement suggests, and Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell indicated that the Fed needs substantially more evidence to confidently say that inflation is coming closer to their 2% target.”
The bitcoin price briefly topped $24,000 per bitcoin, a level not seen since last August before dropping back as traders bet the slow down in interest rate hikes will continue through 2023 and could even see the Fed pivot to a more dovish stance. However, Fed chair Powell warned it would be “very premature to declare victory” in the fight against inflation.
“Overall, the market took the latest [Federal Reserve interest rate decision] as dovish, but bitcoin’s rally remains precarious,” Hasegawa said. “In fact, the price did rise on Wednesday, but failed to close above $24,000 and its momentum seems to be on the decline. Friday’s jobs report may give a boost but with recent declines in weekly initial jobless claims, it may be too optimistic to have high hopes.
The bitcoin price surged to around $23,000 per bitcoin, up from under $17,000 at the beginning of the year. Ethereum
Now, the $1 trillion crypto market is braced for the latest Federal Reserve interest rate decision tomorrow that’s expected to see the Fed lift its funds rate to a new target range of 4.5% to 4.75%—its smallest hike since it began raising rates in March last year.
It’s in a brutal bear market that you need up-to-date information the most! Sign up now for the free CryptoCodex—A daily newsletter for traders, investors and the crypto-curious that will keep you ahead of the market
Markets are “buckling under the pressure of the Federal Reserve’s upcoming rate rise,” Sophie Lund-Yates, lead equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said in emailed comments.
The bitcoin price has fallen back from the six-month high it reached last weekend, mirrored by ethereum and other major cryptocurrencies.
“Policymakers are largely expected to increase rates by 25 basis points, and this is what the market has priced in,” Lund-Yates said. “As the decision draws closer, there are inevitability some small tremors creeping in, but these shouldn’t be protracted.”
Rising expectations the Federal Reserve could be pivoting from its policy of rapid interest rate hikes have powered a crypto and stock market rally through January after economic data showed red-hot inflation was beginning to cool. The Fed’s series of interest hikes last year was designed to drive down inflation by sucking liquidity out of the system.
“The market may have gotten ahead of itself for the Fed’s liking,” Nauman Sheikh, head of treasury management at crypto asset manager Wave Financial, said in an emailed note.
Sign up now for CryptoCodex—A free, daily newsletter for the crypto-curious
Following the interest rate decision tomorrow at 2pm ET, Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell will hold a press conference in which he’s expected to reiterate his hawkish position.
“The Fed has already laid out its ‘higher for longer’ road map whereby the interest rate hikes would transition from fast-paced to a more measured pace and then remain anchored to the terminal rate for some time,” Sheikh said.
“The market, now focused on recession, doesn’t believe the Fed and is pricing in rate cuts starting in September. There is a strong possibility that in the press conference, Powell will be more hawkish and re-tighten financial conditions. For that reason, we could see a healthy short-term correction in crypto, and all risk assets.”