Fed's Preferred Inflation Gauge Rises Less Than Expected, and Bitcoin Rises

Bitcoin got a quick boost early Friday after a U.S. government report showing that an inflation gauge closely monitored by the Federal Reserve rose slower than estimated last month.

The PCE price index increased 0.3% during the month, slowing from August's 0.4% clip. The increase was also less than the 0.4% average estimate of economists in a FactSet survey.

The price of bitcoin (BTC) jumped more than $150 in the minutes after the report, to $20,284. Some of the gains had already faded by press time, and the largest cryptocurrency was changing hands around $20,200.

Bitcoin, along with U.S. stocks and other assets seen as risky, has been moving recently on speculation over whether the Federal Reserve might soon let up in its campaign to bring down soaring inflation. The Fed has been tightening monetary policy to cool the economy, in an effort to slow the pace of consumer-price rises – and higher interest rates tend to make risky assets less attractive.

Over the past 12 months, the PCE index is up 6.2% – still well above the Fed's 2% target, and even with the pace reported for August. The measure is produced by the U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis.

But traders might be encouraged by any signs of progress in bringing the number down, even incrementally.

Another inflation gauge, the Consumer Price Index, produced by the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics, is typically published a couple weeks prior to PCE every month and is much more closely watched by economists and the broader public.

The most recent CPI report, published Oct. 13, showed that the index unexpectedly rose faster than expected in September, at a rate of 8.2%, close to the highest in four decades. Bitcoin's price fell after that report.