Finance

Bitcoin extends its slide to start May, falling to $57,000 as Fed leaves rates unchanged

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The logo of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin (BTC) can be seen on a coin standing in front of a Bitcoin chart.
Silas Stein | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

Bitcoin on Wednesday plunged sharply to its lowest level in over two months amid broader risk-off sentiment in markets, as investors kept an eye on the U.S. Federal Reserve’s upcoming interest rate decision.

The world’s top digital currency by market value dropped as low as $56,757.93, falling below $57,000 for the first time since Feb. 28, according to data from CoinGecko.

Bitcoin was last down 6.3% Wednesday to a price of $57,505.24.

Rival cryptocurrencies ether, solana, and XRP fell 4.5%, 5.9%, and 1.4%, respectively.

Crypto market participants are eyeing the upcoming interest rate decision from the U.S. Federal Reserve. The Federal Open Market Committee is due to meet on Wednesday afternoon to discuss its latest policy on interest rates.

Markets have become more shaky lately, as investors fret over the prospect of a longer path toward interest rate cuts. Investors are looking for clues from Fed Chair Jerome Powell on what needs to happen before rates can come down. 

Bitcoin has been known to trade more akin to traditional risk assets, such as stocks. Its backers have described it as a hedge against rising inflation — but the token’s track record here has been mixed.

Geoff Kendrick, Standard Chartered’s head of digital asset research, said in a note out on Wednesday that bitcoin’s drop below $60,000 “has now re-opened a route to the 50-52k range.”

“The driver seems to be a combination of crypto specific and broader macro,” Kendrick said.

He noted the primary factors impacting the token were five days of consecutive outflows from the U.S. spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds, as well as a deterioration in the macro backdrop and worsening market liquidity.

Kendrick added that the reaction to the launch of spot bitcoin ETFs in Hong Kong earlier this week was “poor,” focusing on small first-day turnover volume from the ETFs in the millions of dollars, despite the net asset positions of the ETFs being solid.

“Of course liquidity matters when it matters, but with a backdrop of strong US inflation data and less likelihood of Fed rate cuts it matters at the moment,” Kendrick said in the note.

The downward price action in crypto markets also comes a day after the former CEO of Binance, Changpeng Zhao, was sentenced to four months in prison over money laundering charges.

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