Cryptocurrency prices held ground on Tuesday after a widely watched inflation gauge in the U.S. showed consumer prices were flat in October.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 3.2% in the 12 months through October, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Thursday. Economists expected the index to show an annual increase of 3.3%, down from a 3.7% clip reported last month.
On a month-to-month basis, the index, which tracks price changes across a broad range of goods and services, was unchanged after a 0.4% jump in September. October's rise in shelter prices was offset by a 5.3% decrease in gasoline prices, the BLS said.
"Overall, inflation came softer than expected,” Dessislava Aubert, a research analyst at Kaiko, told Decrypt. “And it’s pretty good news for risk assets in general because it means that the Fed is done hiking.”
Bitcoin and Ethereum traded hands at $36,600 and $2,000, respectively, according to CoinGecko. While both coins notched slight gains shortly after the report’s release, Bitcoin was down 0.6% over the past day, while Ethereum was flat.
Even though crypto’s two largest coins had a muted reaction to the CPI print, the report appears to have influenced Solana, Lucas Outumuro, head of research at IntoTheBlock, told Decrypt. Solana rose 4.7% to $57 in the hour following its release, according to GoinGecko.
“Naturally, capital rotates in crypto from the larger [market] caps into smaller [market] caps,” he said. “And that is people seeking higher risk.”
Additionally, altcoins like Solana tend to have a higher market capitalization relative to the fees they generate, especially when compared to Ethereum, Outumuro noted. A softer CPI print that is supportive of risk assets is good news for smaller protocols in general, he said.
“They have much higher multiples in terms of like their market cap relative to their fees,” he said. “And the discount rate, in theory, should affect them more strongly, since most of their revenues are in the future, rather than in the present.”
The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates aggressively over the past year and a half to curb inflation, which topped out at a 40-year high of 9.1% last June. Inflation has moderated steadily since then, but it remains above the Fed’s target of 2% annually.
The U.S. central bank decided to hold interest rates steady this month at a target range of 5.25% to 5.50%, representing its second pause in a row. Fed Chair Jerome Powell signaled officials are “proceeding carefully” in light of risks and “how far we have come.”
By raising its benchmark rate, the Fed influences how expensive it is for businesses and consumers to borrow. The U.S. central bank hopes that U.S. companies will raise prices less rapidly in response to how higher rates subdue economic demand.
While higher interest rates could help bring inflation under control, they could also tip the economy into a recession if borrowing rates suffocate economic growth too much. So far, the labor market and economy have shown signs of “resilience,” Powell said earlier this month.
Oliver Rust, head of product at independent inflation data aggregator Truflation, told Decrypt he doesn’t expect the U.S. central bank to raise rates in the near future. At the same time, Rust believes the Fed will hold rates where they are for a prolonged period. “I'm expecting interest rates to say higher for longer—for a very long time,” he said, adding that traders shouldn’t a rate cut in the first quarter of next year.
Over the past month, expectations of a quarter-point rate hike in December have fallen to 15% from 29%, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch Tool. As of this writing, traders think it's most likely that the Fed will begin cutting rates in June.
Americans may feel inflation is still rampant. Yet prices in the U.S. appear stagnant compared to Argentina. As the country prepares for a presidential run-off, featuring an anti-central bank candidate, it reported inflation hit 143% in October on Monday.
Editor's note: This post was updated to add comments from analysts at Kaiko, IntoTheBlock, and Truflation.
Edited by Stacy Elliott.