Priceline, Disney, Fossil, Yelp among the biggest decliners
U.S. stocks struggled for direction Wednesday after the stunning firing of Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey stoked questions about President Donald Trump's ability to build enough consensus in Washington to implement market-friendly polices.
"This certainly isn't a positive, something that makes you want to go out and buy stocks, but it is too early to tell how big of a market-moving event this will prove to be," said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank.
For now, investors seem to be taking a "wait-and-see" approach, he said.
Major indexes all opened lower, but the S&P 500 and Nasdaq strengthened throughout the session to post thin gains, boosted in part by a rally in crude oil prices that provided support to the energy sector. The Dow continued to trade in negative territory, pressured by weak results from Walt Disney Co. (DIS).
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 54 points, or 0.3%, to 20,922, as Disney shares contributed about 20 points of that decline. Losses on the average widened after Boeing Co. (BA) shares contributed about another 24 points of decline following reports it was halting flights of its 737 MAX jets to inspect engine problems.
The S&P 500 was up 1 point, or less than 0.1%, to 2,398, with six out of 11 sectors trading higher led by the energy sector.
The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 6 points, or 0.1%, to 6,127.
On Tuesday, the Nasdaq posted a record close while the S&P 500 finished about 0.1% from its own all-time closing high. The Dow is less than 1% below its record close, which was hit March 1. With valuations stretched by some metrics, equities could be vulnerable to prolonged uncertainty coming out of Washington, analysts said.
Trump said he dismissed the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-fires-fbi-director-comey-democrats-call-for-special-prosecutor-in-russia-probe-2017-05-09) over his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails. The reaction on Capitol Hill to Comey's firing has ranged from approval to outrage. In a press conference, Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that Trump had considered firing Comey since the election (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-lost-confidence-in-comey-over-last-several-months-white-houses-sanders-2017-05-10-1491248).
Read:Complete text of White House statement on firing of FBI's Comey (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/complete-text-of-white-house-statement-on-firing-of-fbi-director-james-comey-2017-05-09)
And see:At first, Comey reportedly thought his firing was a prank (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/at-first-comey-reportedly-thought-his-firing-was-a-prank-2017-05-09)
The political uncertainly offset a strong rally in the energy sector(XLE), which gained 1.2% as oil futures (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-prices-get-respite-from-selling-after-encouraging-us-supply-data-2017-05-10) settled up 3.2% at $47.33 a barrel. Crude was higher after an industry group reported a drop in U.S. crude supplies, a positive sign for demand. Among specific names, shares of Chevron Corp.(CVX) rose 1.2% as the biggest advancing stock on the Dow industrials.
Gold futures settled up 0.2% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gold-finds-some-footing-as-fbis-comey-firing-pressures-stocks-2017-05-10)at $1,218.90 an ounce
European stocks (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-back-away-from-21-month-high-as-2017-05-10) finished higher, while Asian markets largely gained (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/asian-markets-return-to-gains-after-korean-election-2017-05-09).
In the latest economic data, import prices rose 0.5% in April (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/import-prices-jump-while-export-prices-edge-up-in-april-2017-05-10), while export prices were up 0.2%. Both were higher than expected. Separately, a release on the federal budget is on tap for 2 p.m.
Stock movers:Abercrombie & Fitch Co. shares (ANF) jumped 12% in heavy trading following a Reuters report the retailer was fielding buyout interest.
Mylan NV(MYL) shares rose 0.3% after the drugmaker posted first-quarter profit that exceeded expectations (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/mylan-stock-rises-3-after-first-quarter-profit-beat-revenue-miss-2017-05-10), though revenue was weak.
Fashion-accessories maker (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/fossil-group-shares-plummet-after-results-outlook-miss-street-view-2017-05-09)Fossil Group Inc.(FOSL) and online reviews provider (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/yelp-shares-crater-25-in-after-hours-trade-after-revenue-miss-lowered-outlook-2017-05-09)Yelp Inc.(YELP) both plummeted following disappointing quarterly results. Shares of Fossil were down 21% while Yelp shed 18%.
Read the First Take: Yelp plummets as advertisers revolt (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/yelp-plummets-as-advertisers-revolt-2017-05-09)
Online travel broker Priceline Group Inc.(PCLN) lost 5.2% after delivering a weak second-quarter outlook (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/priceline-shares-slide-on-weak-earnings-outlook-2017-05-09) late Tuesday.
Entertainment titan Walt Disney Co.(DIS) was down 2.5% after posting earnings that topped forecasts, but revenue that missed views (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/disney-shares-down-2-as-quarterly-revenue-narrowly-misses-expectations-2017-05-09). The stock was by far the biggest decliner among Dow components.
On the upside, Nvidia Corp. (NVDA) jumped 16% after the maker of graphics chips topped profit forecasts (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/nvidia-jumps-more-than-10-after-handily-beating-on-earnings-2017-05-09-16913212) late Tuesday.
Electronic Arts Inc.(EA) was up 13% following better-than-expected earnings (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/electronic-arts-shares-surge-as-earnings-outlook-tops-street-view-2017-05-09).
Wendy's Co.(WEN) rallied 5.5% after the fast-food chain beat first-quarter profit and sales expectations (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/wendys-stock-jumps-after-profit-and-sales-beat-expectations-2017-05-10), and provided an upbeat outlook.
Inc. Research Holdings(INCR) reached a deal to combine with private-equity owned inVentiv Health (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/inc-research-to-merge-with-private-equity-owned-inventiv-health-in-all-stock-deal-2017-05-10), creating a large biopharmaceutical outsourcing provider. The agreement values inVentiv at $4.6 billion, including debt. Shares of Inc. gained 20%.
Whole Foods Market Inc.(WFM) shares declined 0.4%, after an earlier rise, following a report that grocery chain was looking to name a new chairman (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/whole-foods-shares-rise-on-report-of-pending-board-change-2017-05-10) and replace half its board.
Coty Inc. (COTY) shares jumped 13% after the company said it was looking to overhaul the Cover Girl brand of cosmetics to make it more attractive to retailers.
Shares of News Corp.(NWS.AU)(NWS.AU), which owns The Wall Street Journal and MarketWatch, declined nearly 3% following the release of earnings (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/news-corp-boosted-by-digital-subscriber-gains-2017-05-09) late Tuesday.
--Victor Reklaitis in London contributed to this report.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 10, 2017 14:53 ET (18:53 GMT)