March 23, 2023

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Bitcoin meets FOMC after 39% January gains with Fed path ‘uncertain’

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Bitcoin meets FOMC after 39% January gains with Fed path 'uncertain'

Bitcoin (BTC) hovered around $23,000 on Feb. 1 after sealing its best January performance in ten years.

BTC/USD 1-hour candle chart (Bitstamp). Source: TradingView

End of Bitcoin bear market is “default view”

Data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro and TradingView confirmed a monthly close of around $23,100 for BTC/USD — its highest since July 2022.

The largest cryptocurrency finished the first month of the year up 39.6%, according to statistics from Coinglass.

BTC/USD monthly returns comparison (screenshot). Source: Coinglass

The impressive performance emboldened bulls, many of whom had kept the faith despite mass misgivings from more conservative market participants.

“Bitcoin closes with a Monthly swing low,” trader, entrepreneur and investor Bob Loukas reacted.

“I mean, anything can happen, right. But the absolute default view must be the bear market ended in Dec.”

As Cointelegraph reported, opinions differ considerably over how Bitcoin will behave in February, with one trader expecting “bearish” conditions to return after five-month highs.

The picture for the month ahead continues to be clouded by macroeconomic triggers. Notably, Feb. 1 will see the United States Federal Reserve confirm its next interest rate hike, with the European Central Bank doing the same on Feb. 2.

While the former hiking 25 basis points (bps) is all but “unanimously” priced in, crypto research and analysis firm Arcane Research says, the future remains less certain.

“Due to a relatively strong market recovery, Chair Powell may take the advantage to maintain hawkish restrictive undertones, emphasizing the importance of incoming economic data,” it argued in a blog post released on Jan. 31, adding that consensus “expects a 25bps hike on Wednesday and another 25bps hike to 475bps on March 22.”

“Currently, zero adjustments during the May 3 and June 14 FOMC meetings are priced as the most likely outcome, but a further hike of 25bps remains within the realm of possibility,” it noted.

Expectations of a 25-basis-point hike totaled 99.3% at the time of writing, according to CME Group’s FedWatch Tool.

Fed target rate probabilities chart. Source: CME Group

Should the door be open for surprises, volatility may increase as a result, with rate hike decisions already a classic catalyst.

Arcane nonetheless showed that with each passing hike, volatility around the Fed’s move has cooled.

“This could suggest that the trend of massive FOMC-induced volatility in BTC is receding,” it concluded.

Bitcoin volatility comparison chart (screenshot). Source: Arcane Research

Dollar strength eyes key rebound

Another concern for crypto performance comes in the form of U.S. dollar strength.

Related: Best January since 2013? 5 things to know in Bitcoin this week

In a market update last week, trading firm QCP Capital warned subscribers that a “massive positive divergence” was in play on the U.S. dollar index (DXY).

Traditionally inversely correlated with risk assets, DXY has been in a downtrend since mid-2022, but has stemmed losses into the new year.

“This is the same setup we saw in BTC/ETH in Dec – and as we witnessed there, any breakout to the topside will therefore be extremely sharp and violent,” QCP wrote.

U.S. dollar index (DXY) 1-day candle chart. Source: TradingView

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the authors’ alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.