Axios Closer

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Wednesday ✅.

Today's newsletter is 695 words, a 2½-minute read.

🔔 The dashboard: The S&P 500 closed up 0.9%.

  • Biggest gainer? Paramount Global (+11.8%), on a WSJ report that it's received an $11 billion bid from private equity firm Apollo Global.
  • Biggest decliner? Nasdaq Inc. (-2.5%), after disclosing that its largest shareholder, Borse Dubai, intends to sell shares worth $1.6 billion.

1 big thing: Rates hold steady

Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell speaks during a news conference following Federal Open Market Committee meeting today. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Fed left interest rates unchanged today for the fifth straight time, and it tweaked projections in ways that suggest less rate-cutting than previously envisioned may lie ahead, Axios' Neil Irwin and Courtenay Brown write.

Why it matters: The Fed's announcements suggest that its plans to bring rates down this year remain intact, though the questions of "when" and "how much" are uncertain.

State of play: Several inflation indicators for the first two months of 2024 have come in higher than expected, undermining the case for imminent interest rate cuts.

  • Speaking to reporters, Fed chair Jerome Powell said that data hasn't "really changed the overall story, which is that of inflation moving down gradually, on a sometimes bumpy road, toward 2%."
  • "We were saying that it's going to be a bumpy ride," Powell said. "Now here are some bumps — and the question is, 'Are these more than bumps?' And we can't know that."

Yes, but: The Fed's new projections show that some officials have adjusted expectations for just how much rate-cutting could be on the way.

  • The median official continued to anticipate three cuts this year, unchanged from last December. Yet, in December, five top Fed officials anticipated four or more rate cuts this year. Now only one official holds that view.

The bottom line: Fed officials aren't tossing out their entire outlook based on two months of inflation data, and they continue to anticipate inflation falling and rate cuts later in the year — just not to the extent they did three months ago.

2. Charted: Bitcoin newbies' wild ride

Data: CoinGecko; Chart: Axios Visuals

ETFs have been touted as an entry point for new investors to bitcoin.

  • For any newbies that jumped in the game since trading started in January, it's been a wild ride.

They've seen a record high for the so-called orange coin. 🥳

  • And they've seen it fall more than 11% since. 😕

What they're saying: "The ETFs are being used as a small 'hot sauce' allocation to core portfolios, meaning investors will have a greater tolerance for volatility," Bloomberg Intelligence analysts noted earlier this month.

  • Yes, but: The recent downturn hasn't sent ETF investors for the exits. So far they appear strapped in for the ride.

Go deeper: Get daily coverage of how cryptocurrency and blockchain are upending markets with the Axios Crypto newsletter.

3. What's happening

🌯 Chipotle's board approved a 50-for-1 stock split, sending its shares to an all-time high. (CNBC)

🛻 The EPA finalized rules limiting auto tailpipe emissions from cars, SUVs and pickups. (Axios)

4. Intel gets $8.5 billion CHIPS Act grant

President Biden and Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger arrive at a groundbreaking for a semiconductor manufacturing facility near New Albany, Ohio, in 2022. Photo: Gaelen Morse/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Intel was awarded $20 billion in federal grants and loans today to expand its semiconductor production, Axios' Hans Nichols writes.

Why it matters: It's the biggest award in the $52 billion Chips and Science Act President Biden signed into law in 2022.

By the numbers: In addition to the $8.5 billion in grants, Intel is eligible for up to $11 billion in loans from the Commerce Department.

  • Those awards, along with a separate tax credit from the Treasury Department, will lead to an estimated $100 billion in private investment from Intel.
  • The administration expects Intel will use the money to help build or expand facilities in Arizona, Ohio, New Mexico and Oregon and help add a total of 30,000 new jobs.

5. Don't Slack on punctuation

Hope and Slack CEO Denise Dresser at Axios' What's Next Summit Tuesday. Photo: Ronald Flores for Axios

Sometimes a period is just a period, Hope writes.

Driving the news: Denise Dresser, CEO of Slack, one of the most popular communications platforms in the world, told me during Axios' What's Next Summit yesterday that she uses the punctuation mark even when texting with her kids.

  • "To show good grammar and show them that there's still grammar to be had, because I don't understand half of the words they use with me."

Context: Periods mean different things to different people.

  • Use of formal and proper punctuation in digital communications can come off as passive-aggressive or cold, particularly to younger people.

💭 Hope's thought bubble: It's all relative. If someone who doesn't usually use a period uses it one day, then that's probably a sign that something is off. Periodt. (peer-ee-uht)

6. What they're saying

"I can finally tell my wife that all that 'wasted time' on Reddit finally paid off."
— Kevin Xu, founder and CEO of social trading app AfterHour, to Hope about participating in Reddit's IPO.

Today's newsletter was edited by Pete Gannon and copy edited by Sheryl Miller.

💰 Join Axios' Neil Irwin and Niala Boodhoo tomorrow at 8am ET in Washington, D.C., for an event examining the future of tax policy. Guests include Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R-Texas), Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) and American Enterprise Institute senior fellow Kyle Pomerleau.

  • Register here to attend in person.