Bitcoin (BTC-USD) slid in Wednesday's choppy session after the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate by 75 basis points for a fourth straight meeting, only to hint at considering slowing the pace of hikes.
The world's largest cryptocurrency by market cap (BTC-USD) initially rose to as high as $20.77K, just as Fed chair Jerome Powell started to deliver his hawkish remarks, at 2:30 p.m. ET. But it didn't take long for the digital token to turn back to negative territory ( -1.2% to $20.21K at 3:28 p.m. ET), as Powell stressed that "it's very premature to think about pausing the rate hikes" with inflation still hovering at stubbornly high levels, he said in a post-policy press conference.
Indeed, the Fed's most aggressive rate-hiking cycle in decades to tame inflation could be in the final stages, JPow said. While he contended that the central bank may moderate the pace of rate increases at the December meeting or the one after that, he also emphasized "we still have a ways to go" for the Fed to reach its goal of bringing inflation down to its 2% objective. That implies that the much hoped-for Fed pivot won't come to fruition anytime soon, hence risk assets across the board took a beating.
Nevertheless, traders have dialed back their December rate-hike bets. They are pricing in a 55.7% chance for a less aggressive 50-bp increase at the last gathering of the year, according to CME's FedWatch tool. That compares with a 44.5% probability for the same such move in the prior day.
The Wall Street Journal's Nick Timiraos, who is considered to be tuned in to FOMC thinking and who sparked the pivot trade in October, laid down his takeaways from Powell's remarks: "1) The Fed could step down to a slower pace in Dec even if inflation data don't improve much 2) If there had been new estimates of the terminal funds rate released today, they would have moved up 3) Not ready to talk about a pause."
The U.S. stock market, which has shared a strong relationship with crypto in the past year, made similar volatile swings intraday as all three major stock indices made short-lived gains post-rate decision until Powell's speech put the Dow Jones (DJI) -0.8%, S&P 500 (SP500) -1.7% and Nasdaq (COMP.IND) -2.4% back into negative terrain.
Crypto-related stocks traded mostly in the red: Core Scientific (CORZ) -7%, Marathon Digital (MARA) -5.4%, Riot Blockchain (RIOT) -3.9%, Greenidge Generation (GREE) -4.9%, Bitfarms (BITF) -3.4%, MicroStrategy (MSTR) +3.8% and Coinbase Global (COIN) +0.7%.
See why Seeking Alpha contributor Florian Grummes sees some chance for bitcoin's price to recover.