Federal Reserve Hikes Fed Funds Rate by 25 Basis Points

The move was fully anticipated by market participants who will now look to Chairman Jerome Powell’s imminent post-meeting press conference for clues about whether the central bank intends to continue tightening monetary policy.

AccessTimeIconJul 26, 2023 at 6:04 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 20, 2023 at 5:24 p.m. UTC
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The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the U.S. Federal Reserve concluded its two-day policy meeting Wednesday by resuming rate hikes after a one-meeting pause, raising its benchmark fed funds rate by 25 basis points to a targeted range of 5.25%-5.50%.

The price of bitcoin (BTC) was little-changed at $29,300 in the immediate aftermath of the announcement.

Today’s move is a resumption of tightener monetary policy by the Fed, which at its meeting six weeks ago had paused what had then been a 15-month sting of consecutive rate hikes. The hike was fully anticipated by markets, with the CME FedWatch tool – which relies on pricing in the short-term interest rate markets mostly affected by Fed actions – for the last week showing a near-100% chance of such an action.

"Tighter credit conditions for households and businesses are likely to weigh on economic activity, hiring, and inflation," said the accompanying policy statement. "The extent of these effects remains uncertain," the statement continued. "The Committee remains highly attentive to inflation risks."

At his post-meeting press conference, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said no decisions about future rate hikes or pauses had been made, and stressed that the central bank will be highly data dependent going forward. He noted, for instance, that the Fed will have two additional employment reports and two additional inflation reports to mull over before its next rate-setting meeting in September.

Powell also said that the Fed staff was no longer anticipating a recession. This is notable as the staff's forecast for the past few months had been for a mild recession. The comments briefly knocked bitcoin lower by about $150, but the price quickly rebounded.

While a recent Reuters survey of 106 economists showed that most expect today’s hike to be the last one this cycle, the Fed’s own projections suggest otherwise. Matt Kunke, a research analyst at crypto trading firm and liquidity provider GSR, noted to CoinDesk Tuesday that the central bank’s June Summary of Economic Projections (SEP) showed the median forecast among Fed officials was for two more rate hikes this year. “Markets haven’t fully bought into this view and continue to imply that one hike (~65%) is more likely than two (~27%),” said Kunke.

Following a fast 20% rally beginning in mid-June mostly thanks to excitement surrounding BlackRock’s filing for a spot Bitcoin ETF, the price of BTC has stalled during July – at least in part due to the realization that the Fed would indeed begin lifting interest rates again. After trading as high as $31,800 earlier this month, the crypto dipped to a one-month low below $29,000 on Monday.

UPDATE: (July 26, 18:40 UTC): Adds Powell's press conference comments.

Edited by Stephen Alpher.


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Lyllah Ledesma

Lyllah Ledesma is a CoinDesk Markets reporter currently based in Europe. She holds bitcoin, ether and small amounts of other crypto assets.

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