The Week Ahead: The Future For Bitcoins

This is it. The US Federal Reserve is expected to hike rates by 0.25% on Wednesday. At its November meeting, it said that the labour market has continued to strengthen and that economic activity has been rising at a solid rate, despite hurricane disruptions. So it looks as though nothing – not even strong winds – will stop the Fed from putting up the cost of borrowing.

Ahead of the key interest-rate decision, there are some important inflation numbers to digest. The consumer prices index is expected to show that inflation in the US rose 2.1% in November and that core inflation rose at 1.8%. All the more reason for the Fed to act.

Apart from the US Fed, the European Central Bank has an interest-rate decision to make too. It is quite likely that the ECB will keep its bench refinancing rate at 0%.

But the Bank of England is caught between two stools. The Office for National Statistics is expected to say that the inflation rate has risen to 3.2%., which is at odds with the benchmark bank rate of 0.5%. But given the Bank only raised rates last month, it might hold fire for now.

China will provide important data on the state of its retail scene. In October, retail sales rose 10% from a year ago. It was the weakest rise since February. The forecast is for a 10.4% improvement in November. Anything short of that could be worrying.

Malaysia will have retail sales numbers too. In September retail sales increase 9.6% year-on-year, following a revised 12.9% rise in August. One of the disappointing areas included motor vehicles, which saw a 5% decrease.

And finally, Monday will be the first proper trading day after the Chicago Board Options Exchange launched Bitcoin futures. Through the futures market, traders will be able to bet on the future price of the cryptocurrency. It’s anyone’s guess what effect that will have on Bitcoin prices.

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