Equities rally, crypto trades sideways as Powell visits the Senate

Stocks moved higher while cryptocurrencies just barely managed to stay in the green Thursday afternoon in New York as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell wrapped his two-day tour on Capitol Hill. 

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite were bolstered by comments from Powell that the rate at which inflation has fallen has been a pleasant surprise. They gained 1.2% and 1.7%, respectively, toward the end of Thursday’s trading session. 

“It’s not consistent with the historical record, but it’s a really positive thing,” Powell told the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Thursday. 

Read more: Crypto PAC-backed candidates sweep in US election primaries 

The comments come a day after the Fed head addressed the House Financial Services Committee. At the time, he declined to comment on exactly when interest rates might start to decline, but noted an expectation for later this year. A resilient labor market and strong economic growth, combined with continued lower inflation readings, will be the perfect storm for rate cuts, he added. 

“If the economy evolves over that path, then we do think that the process of carefully removing the restrictive stance of policy can and will begin over the course of this year,” Powell said Thursday.

Markets are still largely expecting the first rate cut to come in June, with about 56% agreeing with that timeline, according to data from CME Group. 

Bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH) posted mild gains Thursday, up about 0.7% and 0.3%, respectively, at time of publication. 

Bitcoin has continued to hover in the mid-$60,000 range since Tuesday, when it reached a new record high of about $69,170. Analysts say the pullback was expected, and mostly welcomed, and are looking ahead to the upcoming halving cycle, which is anticipated to happen in late April. 

“Over the past 24 hours, the BTC price has been holding relatively steady, and its trading patterns seem quieter,” Noelle Acheson, author of the Crypto is Macro Now newsletter, said. “This is good news in that it gives the market a space to catch its breath, for investors to recalibrate weightings and for those on the sidelines to make a case for taking positions.”

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