Upside elusive for Bitcoin as Yellen says Fed rate hike a ‘plus’

struggled to gather upside traction as U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen kept the market from cheering El Salvador’s plans to adopt the leading cryptocurrency as legal tender.

In a taped announcement on Saturday, El Salvador President Nayib Bukele said he plans to submit legislation that will make bitcoin (BTC, +1.39%) legal tender. The announcement lifted sentiment, with some calling a potential adoption at the government level a major bullish development.

However, the remains locked well within Saturday’s trading range of $34,900 to $37,900. At press time, bitcoin is changing hands near $36,200 according to the CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index, up 1% on the day.

China’s regulatory crackdown and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s latest comments on interest rates could be capping the gain.

On Sunday, Yellen told Bloomberg that President Joe Biden’s $4 trillion spending proposal would be positive for the country, even if it leads to a rise in interest rates. “If we ended up with a slightly higher interest-rate environment, it would actually be a plus for society’s point of view and the Federal Reserve’s point of view,” Yellen said.

A rate increase dilutes the appeal of perceived inflation hedges such as bitcoin and gold.

China stepped up its crackdown on bitcoin trading and mining over the weekend, blocking many cryptocurrency “key opinion leaders” on Weibo. The move comes weeks after China reiterated its long-standing ban on cryptocurrency trading and mining, sending the price of bitcoin lower.