Bitcoin and Ether Steady Ahead of Fed Decision

Bitcoin and ether were roughly flat as investors eagerly awaited the U.S. Federal Reserve’s interest rate decision.

The bitcoin (BTC) price was trading around $20,300, little changed from the past 24 hours. The largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization was staying above the $20,000 level its ninth consecutive day – after previously failing to crack the mark for 18 straight days.

The CoinDesk Market Index was down 1%. Ether (ETH) slid 1% to $1,550 as of press time.

U.S. stock markets followed a similar “wait-and-see” pattern as markets expected the Fed to impose a fourth consecutive 75 basis point (0.75 percentage point) rate hike during the two-day closed-door meeting that started Tuesday in Washington and culminates at 2 p.m. Wednesday with an official statement; a press conference is expected afterward with Fed Chair Jerome Powell. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 0.7%.

Joe DiPasquale, CEO of crypto hedge fund manager BitBull Capital, told CoinDesk that traders will look toward Powell’s post-meeting commentary to “gauge the Fed's sentiment for future hikes.”

“The point here is to identify a potential pivot point to return toward risk-on assets,” he said.

There have been divergent views on whether the Fed will pivot to a dovish approach on interest rate hikes for the December and subsequent monetary-policy meetings, with major investment banks warning that the Fed could keep raising borrowing costs for longer.

“Markets want clarity on where the Fed will at least pause the current rate hike cycle, but Chair Powell is not really in any position to provide that just yet,” Nicholas Colas, co-founder of DataTrek Research, wrote in a Wednesday note.