Bitcoin fights for $42K as U.S. leads world in COVID crisis

Digital assets clawed higher on Tuesday, gaining steam after yesterday’s intraday stop hunt as traders eye rising interest rates and a surging number of COVID-19 cases in the United States.

Bitcoin was trading at $41,762, up 1.85% after a brutal session on Monday, which mirrored the equities market after the Dow lost over 1% before recovering late in the day. U.S. stock futures traded higher in early pre-market trade on Tuesday after the Dow Jones dipped more than 160 points in the previous session. Ethereum recovered slightly higher than Bitcoin, up 2.95% and trading at $3,162.

Market participants will be focused on Jerome Powell’s renomination hearing on Tuesday to continue his role as chair of the Federal Reserve, in addition to speeches from regional Fed presidents in anticipation for inflation data expected to be released on Wednesday. Powell is widely expected to be confirmed by the Senate.

The minutes from the December Fed meeting released last week revealed that the central bank is interested in multiple rate hikes this year and plans to reduce its nearly $9 trillion balance sheet as the previous quantitative easing program is reduced.

The number of Americans who are currently in hospitals with COVID-19 climbed to 142,388 on Sunday, exceeding the peak of 142,315 reached last winter, according to data released by the New York Times. The seven-day average climbed to 135,559 on Monday, up 83% from two weeks ago.

Daily average cases climbed to 737,415, an increase of 203% from two weeks ago, while the daily average for COVID-19-related deaths is up 36% from two weeks ago to 1,653, according to the New York Times. The highest concentration of new cases is found in northeastern states, including New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

Pfizer says it is working on a hybrid vaccine that will cover multiple coronavirus variants including omicron, with plans to seek regulatory clearance by March if needed, said chief executive officer Albert Bourla at an annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare conference on Monday afternoon. An edited transcript of the comments were made available on Pfizer’s website.

Globally, the total for COVID-19 cases increased to 310.6 million and the death toll climbed above 5.49 million, according to aggregated data by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. is the world leader with a total of 61.6 million cases and 839,500 deaths.