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Bitcoin pinned at $69k amid rate fears, regulatory jitters

Investing.com-- Bitcoin price fell slightly on Thursday, sticking close to a trading range seen through most of the week amid anticipation of more cues on U.S.interest rates and fears of more U.S. regulatory scrutiny against cryptocurrencies.

The world’s largest cryptocurrency fell 1.1% over the past 24 hours and traded at $69,681.7 by 01:36 ET (05:36 GMT). 

Bitcoin traded rangebound for two weeks after rushing to record highs earlier in March, as slowing capital flows into the recently-approved spot exchange-traded funds suggested that enthusiasm over the cryptocurrency was now cooling. 

Pressure from the dollar, which shot up to one-month highs this week, also limited any major gains in Bitcoin, especially as dovish comments from major global central banks saw traders largely prefer the greenback as a high-yielding, low-risk currency.

Bitcoin price under pressure before PCE data, Fed signals

Markets were now focused squarely on PCE price index data- the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, which is due on Friday, and is likely to factor into the bank’s outlook on interest rates.

While the Fed is still projecting 75 basis points of rate cuts in 2024, any signs of sticky inflation could potentially tighten that outlook. Higher-for-longer interest rates bode poorly for Bitcoin, given that the token usually thrives in high-liquidity, risk-heavy markets. 

After the PCE data, Fed officials Jerome Powell and Mary Daly are also set to speak at separate events later on Friday. Any more cues on the Fed’s stance on interest rates and inflation will be closely watched, especially as other Fed officials struck a somewhat hawkish tone this week.

Governor Christopher Waller said on Wednesday that the bank was in no hurry to begin trimming interest rates, citing sticky inflation and enough headroom from a strong U.S. economy to keep monetary conditions tight.

SEC-Coinbase suit rattles crypto

Sentiment towards crypto markets was also rattled by a key development in the Securities and Exchange Commission's lawsuit against crypto exchange Coinbase Global Inc (NASDAQ:COIN).

A U.S. judge ruled that the lawsuit, which was announced in 2023, can move forward, but dismissed one claim the SEC had made against Coinbase.

The SEC recently won a major legal victory against XRP token issuer Ripple, and was reportedly seeking $2 billion in penalties from the firm.

But the SEC-Coinbase suit is a key point of focus for crypto markets, given that it could potentially determine whether crypto tokens are governed by U.S. securities law.

This uncertainty also kept Bitcoin trading in a tight range.

But despite its treading water for two weeks, Bitcoin was still set for an over 50% gain in the first quarter of 2024, boosted chiefly by increased capital flows after the U.S. approval of spot ETFs earlier this year.

By comparison, the S&P 500 was up 11% in Q1, while gold was up about 6.5%.

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