Bitcoin breaks above $30,000 as investors eye end of rate rises
By Rae Wee, Medha Singh and Hannah Lang
(Reuters) – Major cryptocurrency bitcoin breached the key $30,000 level for the first time in 10 months on Tuesday, adding to its steady gains as investors raised bets that the U.S. Federal Reserve will soon end its aggressive monetary tightening campaign.
Bitcoin peaked at $30,438 in Asian trade and was last up 1.96% at $30,233. It has gained nearly 6% since the start of the month, after rising 23% in March.
Investors are awaiting a U.S. inflation report on Wednesday to assess the Fed’s next steps after banking sector turmoil in March raised expectations that the central bank would let up on rate hikes to ease stress on the sector.
“The recent surge in bitcoin’s price is like a breath of fresh air after a long, cold crypto winter,” said Tim Frost, CEO of crypto yield platform Yield App.
“This renewed optimism could be attributed to an anticipated shift in the U.S. Federal Reserve’s monetary policy, which is expected to create a more stable, and hopefully predictable, environment.”
Boosting the case for rate hikes, however, Friday’s closely watched U.S. nonfarm payrolls (NFP) report showed employers maintained a strong pace of hiring in March, pointing to a still-resilient economy.
“There were some expectations of a potential miss on NFP on Friday, and that’s bolstered confidence coming into” the readout of U.S. consumer price index data, said Joseph Edwards, investment adviser at Enigma Securities.
GRAPHIC – Bitcoin and gold outperform S&P 500 since banking turmoil
Crypto investment products attracted $57 million in inflows last week – albeit on low volume – with most of the money focused on bitcoin, digital asset manager CoinShares said on Monday. This brings digital asset flows back into positive territory for the year, the report showed.
“The market has done a great job at culling all leveraged participants in the past 18 months,” said Matthew Dibb, chief investment officer at Astronaut Capital, a Singapore-based crypto asset manager.
“If (bitcoin) can survive the week over $30,000, we are going higher.”
Ether, the second largest cryptocurrency, stood near last week’s roughly eight-month peak of $1,942.50. It was last up 1.56% to $1,915.56.
Crypto investors are eagerly anticipating a major revamp to the Ethereum blockchain on Wednesday that is set to allow them to gain access to more than $33 billion of ether currency.
The software upgrade, dubbed Shapella, will let market players redeem their “staked ether” – coins they have deposited and locked up on the network over the past three years in return for interest.
While Shapella is not likely to directly drive sell pressure on ether, volatility could be heightened around the event, Bank of America strategist Alkesh Shah said.
(Reporting by Rae Wee in Singapore and Medha Singh in Bengaluru and Hannah Lang in Washington; Editing by Vidya Ranganathan, Jamie Freed, Devika Syamnath and Richard Chang)