For months, there’s been a trickle of news about mainstream businesses getting involved in cryptocurrencies. In the past week, it’s turned into a flood. And that helped push the price of Bitcoin to a new all-time high above $48,000 on Thursday. Rationales for investing in it, or providing crypto services, cover a wide range.
The most buzzworthy move came from Tesla, which announced on Monday that it bought $1.5 billion worth of Bitcoin to hold on its balance sheet, and that it plans to allow car buyers to pay in Bitcoin. For Tesla, one big reason for the investment appears to be the enthusiasm of its chief executive, Elon Musk, for the stuff. He isn’t the only tech leader to get into Bitcoin. Jack Dorsey has long praised Bitcoin as the money of the future, and now Square, one of the companies he helms, has invested in it. His other company, Twitter, is considering joining the bandwagon.
And the list is growing. Mastercard said Wednesday it will start allowing businesses to accept some crypto payments, though they’ll be converted into standard currencies before they hit the register. On Thursday, BNY Mellon, founded by Alexander Hamilton, said it will hold and transfer cryptocurrencies for customers, just like it does with other assets. Two big reasons: “growing client demand” and “regulatory clarity,” the bank said. Translation: crypto’s hot and the government doesn’t seem to mind it.
Yet not everyone is sold. When an analyst on Tuesday asked General Motors to weigh in on Bitcoin, CEO Mary Barra said, “We don’t have any plans to invest in Bitcoin, so full stop there.” But if buyers start pushing to pay in Bitcoin, she said, the company might consider it.
Stock and bond markets are closed in observance of Presidents Day.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York releases its Empire State Manufacturing Survey for February. Consensus estimate is for an eight reading, higher than January’s 3.5 figure. January’s reading was the lowest since June, as the region’s manufacturing sector is still growing, but at a sluggish rate.
The Census Bureau reports retail sales data for January. Expectations are for a 1.3% month-over-month rise in consumer spending after a 0.7% decline in December. Excluding autos, sales are seen gaining 1.4%.
The Federal Open Market Committee releases the minutes from its late-January monetary-policy meeting.
The National Association of Home Builders releases its NAHB/ Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for February. Economists forecast an 82 reading, one point lower than January’s 83 figure. The index is down slightly from its all-time high of 90 set in November. Demand remains strong in the housing market, but home builders are concerned about rising material costs, especially lumber prices, which have risen more than threefold since last April.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the producer price index for January. Expectations are for a 0.4% month-over-month rise, just a tick above December’s gain. The core PPI, which exclude volatile food and energy prices, is seen gaining 0.2%, roughly even with the December data.
The Census Bureau reports new-residential-construction data for January. Economists forecast a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.65 million housing starts, just below the December’s 1.67 million. The December figure was the highest annual rate of housing starts since the 2006-07 housing market bubble.
Deere hosts a conference call to discuss quarterly results.
IHS Markit reports both its Manufacturing and Services Purchasing Managers’ indexes for February. Consensus estimates are for a 59 reading for the Manufacturing PMI and a 57.8 reading for the Services PMI. Both figures are about even with the January data.
Write to Avi Salzman at email@example.com