Bitcoin (BTC) nudged $27,000 after the May 19 Wall Street open as the chair of the United States Federal Reserve delivered comments on policy.
BTC price volatility returns as Powell speaks
All eyes were on Fed Chair Jerome Powell on the day, who was speaking at the Thomas Laubach Research Conference in Washington, D.C.
Market nerves had returned the day prior as other Fed officials, along with jobless data, had heightened expectations of interest rate hikes continuing.
“While the financial stability tools helped to calm conditions in the banking sector, developments there, on the other hand, are contributing to tighter credit conditions and are likely to weigh on economic growth, hiring and inflation,” he said.
“So, as a result, our policy rate may not need to rise as much as it would have otherwise to achieve our goals. Of course, the extent of that is highly uncertain.”
Powell added that markets diverging from the Fed on rate hike expectations “appears to reflect simply a different forecast, one in which inflation comes down much more quickly” than officials themselves believe.
Bitcoin thus appeared particularly sensitive to suggestions of rate hikes potentially ending sooner rather than later, with the conference ongoing at the time of writing.
Ask liquidity, meanwhile, was slowly building in an area closer to spot price at around $27,300.
— Material Indicators (@MI_Algos) May 19, 2023
“This year is crucial to how the next few shape up in the economy,” popular trader Crypto Tony reacted, referencing Powell on Fed policy.
Markets increase rate freeze bets
As Bitcoin showed signs of volatility, U.S. dollar strength, traditionally inversely correlated, showed some strain.
The U.S. Dollar Index (DXY) was down 0.4% on the day, briefly dipping to 103 to erase the day’s gains.
The latest data from CME Group’s FedWatch Tool, meanwhile, tracked a swift change in market sentiment toward a June pause in rate hikes.
Beginning the day with around 62% odds of a pause, that number had increased to 80% within the first half hour of Powell’s appearance.
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