Stock Market

5 things to know before the stock market opens Wednesday, March 20

  • Investors are waiting to hear from the Federal Reserve and Jerome Powell.
  • Intel won up to $8.5 billion in CHIPS Act funding.
  • Bitcoin has been churning lower since hitting a record high last week.

Here are the most important news items that investors need to start their trading day:

Stocks took a turn higher Tuesday as investors awaited news from the Federal Reserve (more on that below) and tracked chip darling Nvidia. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose more than 300 points Tuesday, to finish the day 0.83% higher. That’s good for its best day since Feb. 22. The S&P 500 advanced 0.56% and the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.39%. Stocks got a boost as Treasury yields dipped broadly. The rate on the benchmark 10-year Treasury was down more than 4 basis points on Tuesday at 4.295%. Follow live market updates.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell speaks during a press conference following a closed two-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee on interest rate policy at the Federal Reserve in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 13, 2023.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

It’s that time again. The Federal Open Market Committee is meeting, which means investors will be watching for any clues about the direction the Federal Reserve plans to take on interest rates. The general feeling is that policymakers will stick to the recent messaging that’s been coming out of the central bank. That means most watchers aren’t expecting the Fed to announce a rate cut Wednesday. But they might get some hints about what the future holds in the “dot plot,” or the chart that indicates what the 19 FOMC voting and nonvoting members are expecting to see for rates through the end of the year and out to 2026 and beyond. Officials also will release their quarterly update on the economy, specifically for gross domestic product, inflation and the unemployment rate.

A binary code and Intel logo are seen in this multiple exposure illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on February 21, 2024. 

Jakub Porzycki | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Intel has been awarded up to $8.5 billion in CHIPS Act funding, the White House said Wednesday. The grant is part of an effort by the Biden administration to bring semiconductor manufacturing to U.S. soil. The company could also receive up to $11 billion in loans tied to the legislation, which was passed in 2022. Intel has long been a key part of the U.S. semiconductor industry, but it has recently been eclipsed in revenue by Nvidia, which has been at the forefront of the artificial intelligence craze. Intel has an advantage though, because unlike AMD and Nvidia, it operates chip factories, in addition to designing processors.

People are passing by a Bitcoin office in Istanbul, Turkey, on February 28, 2024. 

Umit Turhan Coskun | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Bitcoin kept falling Wednesday and at one point dropped below $61,000, which is more than $10,000 below last week’s record high. The entire cryptocurrency market has shed roughly $400 billion in value since bitcoin hit that all-time high; other digital assets such as ether and Solana have also seen steep drops. Part of that decline could be attributed to investors taking a profit after the rally. Along with that crypto drop, shares of MicroStrategy, which is the largest corporate holder of bitcoin, plummeted as much as 18% on Tuesday as the company bought even more bitcoin, but it recovered some of those losses by market close.

A woman wearing a Gucci belt and bag is seen during Paris Fashion Week in September 2018

 Christian Vierig | Getty Images

French luxury group Kering warned Wednesday that the company’s Gucci sales are headed toward a 20% decline year on year in the first quarter, led lower by falling transactions in Asia. The company’s stock tanked 14% after the warning, which forecast overall group revenue to drop 10% in the first three months of 2024 on a comparable basis. Other European luxury lines also tumbled, as shares of LVMHChristian Dior and Hermes all fell more than 2% in early European trading, while Burberry was down 5.7%.

— CNBC’s Pia Singh, Jeff Cox, Kif Leswing, Tanaya Macheel, Arjun Kharpal and Karen Gilchrist contributed to this report.

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