Nasdaq, S&P 500 Move Modestly Higher, Dow Closes Nearly Unchanged

Stocks moved modestly higher during trading on Wednesday, adding to the slim gains posted in the previous session. While the Dow ended the day nearly unchanged, the broader Nasdaq and S&P 500 moved to the upside.

The Nasdaq climbed 56.52 points or 0.4 percent to 13,128.95 and the S&P 500 rose 8.65 points or 0.2 percent to 3,809.84. Meanwhile, the Dow spent the day lingering near the unchanged line before closing down 8.22 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 13,128.95.

The higher close by the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 came as treasuries regained ground following recent weakness, leading to a drop in bond yields.

The yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, fell by 5 basis points to 1.088 percent after ending the previous session at its highest closing level since mid-March.

The drop in treasury yields contributed to significant strength among interest rate sensitive stocks such as utilities and commercial real estate stocks.

Reflecting the strength in the sectors, the Dow Jones Utility Average surged up by 2 percent and the Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate Index advanced by 1.2 percent.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq benefited from a jump by shares of Intel (INTC) which spiked by 7 percent after announcing CEO Bob Swan is stepping down effective February 15th and will be replaced by VMWare (VMW) CEO Pat Gelsinger.

On the other hand, steel stocks moved sharply lower over the course of the session, dragging the NYSE Arca Steel Index down by 2.7 percent.

Energy, networking and gold stocks also saw notable weakness, partly offsetting the strength in the aforementioned sectors.

In U.S. economic news, the Labor Department released a report showing U.S. consumer prices increased in line with economist estimates in the month of December.

The report said the consumer price index rose by 0.4 percent in December after edging up by 0.2 percent in November. The price growth matched expectations.

The Labor Department said the advance by the consumer price index was driven by an 8.4 percent jump in gasoline prices, which accounted for more than 60 percent of the overall increase.

Excluding food and energy prices, the core consumer price index inched up by 0.1 percent in December after rising by 0.2 percent in November. The uptick in core prices also matched economist estimates.

Later in the day, the Federal Reserve released its Beige Book, a compilation of economic evidence from the twelve Fed districts.

The report said most Fed districts reported that economic activity increased modestly since the previous Beige Book period, although conditions remained varied.

Overall buying interest was somewhat subdued, as political uncertainty kept some traders on the sidelines as House Democrats prepare to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time.

Democrats plan to impeach Trump over allegations that he incited last week’s violent attack on the U.S. Capitol building.

The move by Democrats comes as Vice President Mike Pence has indicated he will not invoke the 25th Amendment as part of an effort to remove Trump from office.

“I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution,” Pence wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Looking ahead, trading on Thursday may be impacted by reaction to the weekly jobless claims report along with remarks by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.

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