Bitcoin (BTC) bulls are hoping for continued good news on the U.S. inflation front from Thursday morning’s July Consumer Price Index (CPI) report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Economists expect a 0.2% increase on a monthly basis, the same increase as seen in June. Year-over-year growth is forecast at 3.3%, up from 3% in June. Headline inflation peaked at 9.1% in June 2022 and was running at an 8.5% pace one year ago in July.
Core CPI (which strips out more volatile food and energy costs) is seen gaining 0.2% in July, matching June. The annual core CPI pace is expected to slip to 4.7% from 4.8%. Core CPI peaked at 6.5% in March 2022, and one year ago in July, the annual level was 5.9%.
Aiming to tame galloping inflation in 2022, the U.S. Federal Reserve early last year embarked on a string of rate hikes, taking its fed funds target range from a range of 0% to 0.25% to the current 5.25%-5.50% range. That historic pace of monetary tightening was at least in part responsible for the big decline in the price of bitcoin, which has dropped from above $69,000 late in 2021 to close out 2022 around the $16,000 level.
While the largest cryptocurrency is higher by 75% in 2023, the bounce has been rather tepid given the enormity of the preceding decline, with bitcoin – at last check trading just below $29,000 – still off roughly 58% from its all-time high.
To the extent that Fed tightening helped bring along bitcoin’s price crash, the slowing and perhaps end of that tightening has been seen as a factor in bitcoin’s modest recovery. While good news from Thursday’s CPI might reinforce that idea, short-term interest rate traders have already priced in no more rate hikes from the Fed this year. A check into 2024 actually shows traders already anticipating rate cuts from the U.S. central bank, perhaps as soon as February.
Read more: Fed’s Rate Hike Cycle Has Peaked, Investment Banks Say
While it’s hard to imagine this week’s CPI data changing the bullish bitcoin calculus with respect to central bank policy, a negative surprise – i.e., CPI coming in significantly higher than expected – could send bitcoin lower on worry that interest rates will go even higher.
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