Why did bitcoin and ethereum jump today? Potential for slower rate hikes in December

Marco Bello

Major cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin (BTC-USD) and ethereum (ETH-USD) along with crypto-linked stocks have turned higher after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell signaled the pace of interest-rate increases could slow down as soon as next month.

After spending much of the past month below $17K after the collapse of crypto exchange FTX, bitcoin (BTC-USD) bounced 3.6% to $17.04K at 4:17 p.m. ET, as market participants cheered JPow’s remarks. Ether (ETH-USD) climbed 5.7% to $1.29K at the time of writing.

While the Fed chief indicated that the U.S. central bank may moderate the pace of its rate hikes starting at the December 13-14 gathering, he also emphasized the “ultimate level of rates will need to be somewhat higher than thought at the time of the September meeting” with inflation still well above its target. In other words, the inflation fight is yet to end hence no Fed pivot on the horizon.

The Fed has lifted its benchmark rate by 75 basis points at each of its last four meetings. But for the December meeting, traders have been ratcheting up their bets for a 50-bp hike as Fed officials suggested over the past month or so a likely downshift in the pace of rate increases. As such, traders hedged for a 77.0% chance for a 50-bp move versus 66.3% in the prior day, according to CME’s FedWatch tool. That would take the federal funds rate target range to 4.25%-4.50%, compared with policymaker’s September projection of a 4.6% terminal rate in 2023.

Crypto-related stocks, which are seen as high-beta versions of digital tokens, traded in a sea of green: MicroStrategy (MSTR) +8%, Galaxy Digital (OTCPK:BRPHF) +10%, Bit Digital (BTBT) +8.1%, Coinbase Global (COIN) +5.8%, Riot Blockchain (RIOT) +9.3% and Marathon Digital (MARA) +6.3%.

In addition, the stock market rallied hard, with all three major U.S. stock indices climbing at least 2% despite a deeply inverted yield curve that’s calling for an economic downturn.

While the crypto ecosystem continues to feel the burn from the multi-billion dollar collapse of crypto exchange FTX, Brazil approved a bill to legalize crypto payments.

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