Stocks saw considerable volatility over the course of the trading session on Wednesday before managing the end the day modestly higher. With the upward move, the tech-heavy Nasdaq closed higher for the seven straight session, reaching a new record closing high.
The major averages moved to the upside going into the close, with the S&P 500 reaching a new high for the session. The Dow climbed 98.75 points or 0.5 percent to 19,954.28, the Nasdaq edged up 11.83 points or 0.2 percent to 5,563.65 and the S&P 500 rose 6.42 points or 0.3 percent to 2,275.32.
The volatility seen on Wall Street was partly in reaction to President-elect Donald Trump's comments during his first press conference in several months.
In his opening remarks, Trump called for new bidding procedures for the drug industry in order to lower prices, claiming the industry is "getting away with murder."
"We're the largest buyer of drugs in the world, and yet we don't bid properly," Trump said. "We're going to start bidding and we're going to save billions of dollars over a period of time."
The comments from Trump led to a sell-off by drug stocks, which initially contributed to a sharp pullback by the major averages.
During the press conference, Trump also indicated he would hand over control of his companies to his sons Eric and Donald Jr. but not divest from his wide business holdings.
Ahead of the press conference, the World Bank said Trump's proposed tax cuts and spending plans could boost U.S. and global growth but noted uncertainty about his trade policies adds to risks.
The focus on the comments from Trump came amid another quiet day on the U.S. economic front, with traders looking ahead to closely watched reports on producer prices and retail sales on Friday.
Financial giants Bank of America (BAC), JPMorgan (JPM), and Wells Fargo (WFC) are also scheduled to release their quarterly results later this week.
Steel stocks showed a strong move to the upside as the day progressed, resulting in a 1.9 percent jump by the NYSE Arca Steel Index. With the gain, the index reached its best closing level in a month.
Posco (PKX) and Gerdau (GGB) turned in two of the steel sector's best performances, surging up by 6.7 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively.
Considerable strength was also visible among energy stocks, which rebounded along with the price of crude oil. Crude for February delivery surged up $1.43 to $52.25 a barrel after falling sharply in the two previous sessions.
The Philadelphia Oil Service Index advanced by 1.6 percent, while the NYSE Arca Oil & Gas Index climbed by 1.3 percent.
While software and railroad stocks also saw notable strength, biotechnology stocks posted steep losses following the comments by Trump. The NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index plunged by 3.5 percent, pulling back off its best closing level in well over a month.
Significant weakness also emerged among pharmaceutical stocks, as reflected by the 1.7 percent drop by the NYSE Arca Pharmaceutical Index.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in another mixed performance during trading on Wednesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index rose by 0.3 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index slid by 0.8 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the upside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index closed just above the unchanged line, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index edged up by 0.2 percent and the German DAX Index rose by 0.5 percent.
In the bond market, treasuries closed nearly flat for the second consecutive session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, edged down by less than a basis point to 2.370 percent.
Trading on Thursday could be impacted by reaction to reports on weekly jobless claims and import and export prices as well as speeches by several Federal Reserve officials.
by RTT Staff Writer
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