Axios Closer

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Wednesday ✅.

Today's newsletter is 691 words, a 2½-minute read.

🔔 The dashboard: The S&P 500 closed up 1.2%, hitting a new record (its 23rd this year), as data showed inflation cooled in April, reviving hopes of a rate cut this year.

  • Biggest gainer? Super Micro Computer (+15.8%), the server maker, benefitted from a broad rise in AI-linked stocks as rate-cut hopes were revived.
  • Biggest decliner? Albemarle Corp. (-5.8%), the specialty chemicals manufacturer. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

1 big thing: Uber gets more social

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and company leaders unveil the latest products in New York. Photo: Hope King/Axios

Uber is becoming a more social app.

Why it matters: With 149 million monthly active customers on its platforms, the company has enough scale to spark new sources of growth by connecting users to one another.

  • And at a time when consumers are becoming increasingly cost-conscious, sharing can help people save money while keeping Uber's user numbers up.

Driving the news: CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and Uber product managers unveiled a slate of new features for the Uber and Uber Eats apps during an event this morning in New York.

  • Many of the features — such as Uber Shuttle, the ability to schedule shared rides, perform caregiving tasks and share restaurant recommendations — rely on customer-to-customer interactions.

Zoom in: Unlike individual rides reserved in advance, scheduling shared rides will always bring the cost of trips down, Uber executives tell Axios.

The big picture: Khosrowshahi told investors last year that the company expects UberX Share to become "our newest billion-dollar gross bookings product in the coming quarters," per Axios' Joann Muller.

Hope's thought bubble: Though the company didn't mention cost savings as a benefit of Uber Eats lists, anyone who's taken a chance on a restaurant or dish and later regretted it can imagine how much time and money can be saved with trusted recommendations.

What we're watching: Consumer spending in the U.S. has been slowing this year in many areas — but not travel.

  • "It's not one story for the consumer — [which] creates a lot of complications in the narrative," Michelle Meyer, chief U.S. economist at Mastercard Economics Institute, told CNBC.

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2. Charted: April retail sales come in flat

The bar chart shows the percentage change in monthly sales from March to April 2024 for select retail and food service business categories. Gasoline stations saw the highest increase at 3.1%, while nonstore retailers experienced the largest decrease at -1.2%.
Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

April retail sales were unchanged from March, according to government data.

Why it matters: That's good news for the 2024 rate-cut hopefuls, but not so much for businesses depending on ready and willing consumers.

Between the lines: Of the 13 main business categories tracked by the commerce department, seven showed negative monthly sales growth in April.

  • Hefty declines were seen for sporting goods, hobby and book stores (-0.9%), motor vehicle and parts dealers (-0.8%), and health and personal care retailers (-0.6%).
  • Stripping away spending on autos and gasoline, total retail and food service sales fell 0.1% from the previous month.

What we're watching: Nonstore retailers (mostly online shopping) saw the biggest decline in April, with sales falling 1.2%, though some attribute that to a pull-forward of demand last month.

Go deeper: Inflation and retail sales reports point to cooler economy

3. What's happening

📺 Monthly active users for Netflix's cheaper, ad-supported tier nearly doubled from January. (CNBC)

🍔 McDonald's plans to sell a $5 meal bundle this summer aimed at cost-conscious customers. (WSJ)

🥸 Berkshire Hathaway revealed an investment in Chubb, ending Warren Buffett's secret stock mystery. (CNBC)

4. The gift of the NFL

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Photo: Kirby Lee/Getty Images

Hey NFL fans, Netflix is coming over for Christmas.

  • The streaming service will exclusively stream the league's two Christmas Day games this season as part of a three-season deal.

Why it matters: This marks Netflix's biggest push yet into live sports and puts it in business with the country's most popular sport.

  • Netflix is paying around $150 million for the pair of games this year, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the deal. It will stream at least one game in 2025 and 2026, with terms roughly similar.

The big picture: Streaming companies are quickly making their presence felt in sports, and the NFL is now in business with three of them.

Media Deals: If you need smart, quick intel on media dealmaking for your job, get Axios Pro.

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5. Garnier's sustainability awards

Lauren Choi (left), founder of The New Norm, and Nadya Okamoto, co-founder of August. Photos: Madison Choi, Lucy McDonald

Beauty brand Garnier has awarded a combined $30,000 in grants to two sustainability-focused upstarts: The New Norm and August.

Why it matters: The awards — designed in partnership with Gold House, an organization focused on elevating Asian Pacific cultures — are aimed at helping Asian Pacific entrepreneurs strengthen and promote their sustainable businesses.

Between the lines: The winner was Lauren Choi, founder of plastics-to-fabric recycling upstart The New Norm.

  • Runner-up Nadya Okamoto is the co-founder of sustainable period care brand August.

Zoom in: Choi and Okamoto, both in their 20s, tell Axios they set out to build sustainability-focused companies from the start. They face a similar challenge in changing perceptions.

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

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