The tech-heavy Nasdaq closed at a record for a fourth session in a row Wednesday as the Dow industrials slipped lower as 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.
The Nasdaq Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP -0.83% rose 8.56 points, or 0.1%, to close at a record 6,129.14, for its fifth consecutive session of gains.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.95% fell 32.67 points, or 0.2%, to finish at 20,943.11, as shares of Walt Disney Co. /zigman2/quotes/203410047/composite DIS -1.12% contributed 17 points to the decline. Losses on the average widened after Boeing Co. /zigman2/quotes/208579720/composite BA -6.79% shares accounted for another 16 points of decline following reports it was halting flights of its 737 MAX jets to inspect engine problems.
The S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -0.39% was up 1 point, or less than 0.1%, to 2,398, with eight out of 11 sectors trading higher, led by the energy sector.
With valuations stretched by some metrics, equities could be vulnerable to prolonged uncertainty coming out of Washington, analysts said.
Late Tuesday, Trump said he dismissed Comey over the FBI director’s handling of the investigation into campaign rival 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.
The political uncertainly offset a strong rally in the energy sector /zigman2/quotes/206420077/composite XLE -0.52% , which gained 1.1% as oil futures 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. /zigman2/quotes/205871374/composite CVX -0.53% rose 1.4% as the biggest advancing stock on the Dow industrials.
Gold futures settled up 0.2% at $1,218.90 an ounce
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In the latest economic data, import prices rose 0.5% in April, while export prices were up 0.2%. Both were higher than expected. The U.S. recorded an April budget surplus of $182 billion, boosted by a change in the corporate tax-filing deadline.