2.2.2023

Facts, without motives.
 

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Good morning. It's Thursday, Feb. 2, and we're covering a small shift in the fight against inflation, an NFL legend retires (again), and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Fed Slows Rate Hikes

The Federal Reserve yesterday slowed its pace of interest rate raises to 0.25%, the lowest increase since March. The move brings the benchmark federal funds rate to a range of 4.5%-4.75%, the highest since 2007. The rate typically affects borrowing costs for businesses and consumers. 

 

The hike is the Federal Open Market Committee's eighth consecutive raise and comes as US inflation continues to decline from a June high of 9.1% to December's 6.5%. Further quarter-point hikes are expected in March and May. 

 

Unemployment, which tends to rise as the Fed raises rates, remains at a historic low of 3.5%, while job openings increased by 600,000 to 11 million in December. Learn about the Fed's dual mandate to keep inflation and unemployment down here.

 

The move came a day after the International Monetary Fund upgraded its outlook on global economic growth to an annual rate of 2.9%, up from 2.7% in October.

 

Brady Re-Retires

Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady announced his retirement yesterday, stating the decision to walk away from the game is "for good." The move comes a year after the 45-year-old Brady retired for the first time, before changing his mind and rejoining the Buccaneers for the 2022 season. 

 

The future Hall-of-Famer owns records for most career touchdowns (649), most passing yards (89,214), most wins (251), and most playoff wins (35). He played in 10 Super Bowls, winning seven—both records—the first six of which were with the New England Patriots. See his career stats here

 

Brady's final season fell short of the lofty standard set by his career, with Tampa Bay losing to the Dallas Cowboys in the wild-card round of the playoffs. Separately, Brady and Gisele Bündchen finalized a divorce after 13 years of marriage in October. See Brady's retirement announcement here.

 

All Eyes on Punxsutawney

The nation's attention turns to western Pennsylvania this morning to watch the country's most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, determine whether 2023 will enjoy an early spring or a longer winter. The prescient land-beaver will pick one of two scrolls, each containing separate wintery prophecies.

 

As is tradition, the slumberous whistle-pig will join his top-hatted crew to see whether he'll spot his shadow (foretelling six more weeks of winter) or relax a bit with his admiring fans (predicting an early spring). Phil is right about 40% of the time—or an impressive 60% if you flip the somewhat arbitrary rules.

 

The ceremony was originally conceived of by a local newspaper editor in 1887 but has its roots in Eastern European celebrations of the midway between the winter solstice and spring equinox—and also falls on the lesser-known Christian holiday, Candlemas

 

Historical accounts suggest farmers used the appearance of hibernating mammals to signal spring. In reality, science suggests the salacious marmot appears to check for mates. 

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> Beyoncé's "Renaissance" world tour kicks off May 10 in Sweden and ends Sept. 27 in New Orleans; the 47-date tour is Beyoncé's first solo tour since 2016 (More)

> The 2023 Women's World Cup hosts Australia and New Zealand urge FIFA against signing sponsor deal with Saudi tourism authority, pointing to women's rights restrictions in Saudi Arabia (More)

> British rocker Ozzy Osbourne, 74, announces retirement from touring amid health issues (More) | Willie Nelson, Missy Elliott, and Cyndi Lauper headline list of 2023 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominees (More)

From our partners: We aren't given many 21-month grace periods. Oil checks, doctor appointments, Tax Day ... time speeds by between them. But The Ascent found a credit card offering 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 21 months—among the longest we've seen to avoid interest charges. Learn more about this card today.

 

Science & Technology

> Meta (Facebook) wins federal antitrust suit against its proposed acquisition of VR studio Within; case focused on Meta's control of fitness-oriented VR apps (More)

> Paleontologists discover earliest-known fossilized brain in a backboned animal; 319-million-year-old specimen reveals insights into the brain evolution of vertebrates (More)

> Analysis of artifacts reveals embalming recipes ancient Egyptians used on specific body parts; research came from the discovery of an embalming workshop in the Saqqara necropolis (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +1.2%, Dow +0.02%, Nasdaq +2.0%) following Federal Reserve’s latest rate increase of 25 basis points (More)

> Electric truck maker Rivian to lay off 6% of its workforce, or 840 employees (More) | FedEx to lay off 10% of officers and directors amid slowing consumer demand (More) | Meta (Facebook) stock jumps nearly 18% in after-hours trading on better-than-expected Q4 revenue (More)

> The European Central Bank expected to raise interest rates by half a percentage point despite third-straight month of declines in eurozone inflation (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Funeral service held for Tyre Nichols, who died last month after being arrested and beaten by Memphis, Tennessee, police officers; Vice President Kamala Harris was among attendees (More)

> Nikki Haley, former South Carolina governor, to formally launch 2024 presidential run Feb. 15, becoming first Republican in the field to challenge Donald Trump (More) | President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R, CA-20) meet to discuss the US debt ceiling, among other items (More

> Officials in Western Australia find tiny radioactive capsule that went missing last month (More) | See previous write-up (More)

 

In-Depth

> What the Ancient Bog Bodies Knew

NY Times | Franz Lidz. The first comprehensive survey of ancient human remains buried in the wetlands and spongy turf of northern Europe thousands of years ago reveals an often violent final ritual. (Read)

 

> The Origins of Worcestershire Sauce

Epicurious | Matthew Zuras. A look at the history of Worcestershire sauce, the hard-to-pronounce inky brown liquid that is sweet, salty, peppery, and fishy, starting from its creation in the 1830s by English chemists. (Read)

In partnership with SmartAsset

Demystifying Retirement

 

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The tax implications can be significant. A financial advisor can help strategize a tax-optimized withdrawal sequence for you. Try SmartAsset’s free, five-minute tool to get matched with up to 3 vetted financial advisors serving your area. Get started today.

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Etcetera
 

Photos of the year's best snow sculptures.

 

Calculating the true cost of an NFL injury.

 

See a Disney castle ghost town in Turkey.

 

A 6-year-old boy orders $1,000 worth of takeout.

 

Three things to know about Black History Month.

 

Missing monkeys found in abandoned home.

 

Top 100 places to eat in the US as ranked by Yelp.

 

Chicago woman raises injured squirrel as her own.

 

Clickbait: Meet Punxsutawney Phil's arch-nemesis.

 

Historybook: New Amsterdam (present-day New York) becomes a city (1653); First Groundhog Day celebrated (1887); First Groundhog Day celebrated (1887); First Groundhog Day celebrated (1887); Shakira born (1977); Hollywood legend Gene Kelly dies (1996); Philip Seymour Hoffman dies of drug overdose (2014).

“You dance love, and you dance joy, and you dance dreams.”

- Gene Kelly

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