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Bitcoin Fluctuates as US Employment Figures Send Mixed Signals to Fed

Fredrik Vold
Last updated: | 2 min read
US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. Source: A video screenshot, Yotube, CNBC Television


The price of bitcoin (BTC) fell slightly along with US stock market futures in the early hours of the US trading session today after US payroll figures missed their forecast by a relatively wide margin. Shortly after, however, the situation improved, with stocks in the green and BTC largely unmoved.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 199,000 jobs were created in the US last month, well short of the 444,000 that the Financial Times said was expected by economists.

But although job creation disappointed, the unemployment rate in the US has continued to move lower, the data showed, decreasing 0.3 percentage points to 3.9% in December. Further, the data also revealed a slight improvement in the share of the population that is either employed or actively looking for a job.

“We have non-farm payrolls today and will that have an effect on rate hike expectations? I don’t think it will,” Michael Hewson, Chief Market Analyst at CMC Markets, was quoted as saying by Reuters. According to him, the Fed is on a course to start gradual, incremental rate increases, and “the key question will be how many the markets will allow them to get away with and a lot of that will be down to guidance.”

Following the release, bitcoin initially reacted by trading higher, before sentiment quickly turned around, sending the cryptocurrency lower for a period of time.

At 14:46 UTC, BTC had once again trimmed some of its losses, trading just above the USD 42,000 mark, down by 0.7% since the release of the employment figure at 13:30 UTC. Ethereum (ETH), meanwhile, traded at USD 3,211, down a mere 0.4% since the release.

At the same time, the US S&P 500 stock index was up by 0.12% for the day, trading at USD 4,704.

Commenting on Twitter immediately following the release of the numbers, the popular economist and trader Alex Krüger wrote “VERY BULLISH,” before later adding that the initial spike higher for bitcoin was a “fakeout.”

“No idea if lows will hold today,” the trader said, noting that the crypto market appears to be following stocks lower.

Meanwhile, commenting more broadly on the US Federal Reserve’s (the Fed) handling of the economy, NorthmanTrader founder Sven Henrich pointed out several contradictions in the Fed policy.

“In 2015 they started raising rates with [unemployment] at 5% & then started cutting rates in 2019 with [unemployment] at 3.5%. Now with UE at 3.9% & CPI at 6.8% rates are still zero. But they keep claiming employment & price stability to be their mandates. The Fed is so full of it,” the popular trader wrote.

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Learn more: 
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(Updated at 15:20 UTC with a comment from Michael Hewson.)