Big Tech CEOs Grilled, Fed Rates Stay at Zero

On Wall Street, usually, all eyes are on the Federal Reserve, but the Fed’s interest rate decision to hold the benchmark lending rate near zero on Wednesday went almost unnoticed as an unprecedented hearing on Capitol Hill concerning Big Tech’s power unfolded.

Ironically, Big Tech only got bigger as the trading day wore on; shares in all four of the companies whose CEOs were testifying — Amazon (ticker: AMZN), Alphabet ( GOOG, GOOGL), Facebook ( FB) and Apple ( AAPL) — rose by more than 1% on Wednesday.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 160 points, or 0.6%, to finish at 26,539.

Tech CEOs play defense. The U.S. House Judiciary Committee grilled for hours on Wednesday the CEOs of the previously mentioned Big Tech companies. In questions that ranged from diapers, election interference to commercial relationships with China’s military, the executives painted their companies as large but neutral players in a capitalist market, themselves facing steep competition.

The CEOs of Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook took the brunt of the grilling. Apple CEO Tim Cook seemed to have it a bit easier than the other Big Tech CEOs, who all appeared remotely via live video, although Cook did face some tough questioning on the issue of Apple’s App Store.

A tale of two chip companies. Shares of chipmaker AMD ( AMD) hit a record high on Wednesday after reporting a blowout quarter and a rosy outlook for the rest of the year. A spate of analyst upgrades followed as AMD’s results looked even more impressive in light of Intel Corp.’s ( INTC) disastrous announcement last week that its next-generation 7-nanometer chips would be delayed.

Nanometers refer to the size of transistors on chips; the steady decline in transistor size is central to the rapid development of technology over time, as the higher the transistor count per chip, the more efficient and ultimately powerful technology becomes.

AMD already has a 7-nanometer chip on the market. Shares surged more than 12% on Wednesday as the company appears to have taken a meaningful technological lead over longstanding semiconductor giant Intel.

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