Stocks close narrowly mixed amid earnings, political turmoil

Stocks ended narrowly mixed near record levels Thursday as earnings season continued amid political uncertainty in Washington.

Bloomberg reported that special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into the business dealings of President Donald Trump, Jared Kushner and other associates. This comes a day after Trump warned Muller against it during an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday.

The three major indexes hit session lows on the report before bouncing back.

The S&P 500 ended flat, while the Nasdaq gained 0.08 percent to post its first 10-day win streak since Feb 2015. Both indexes hit record highs earlier in the session.

Tom Martin, a senior portfolio manager at Globalt, said the equity market has been able to bounce back from other negative headlines out of Washington. However, “As these things pile up, especially with the market at an all-time high, there will be a reaction in the market.”

The Dow lagged, falling 28 points. Home Depot was the biggest contributor of losses on the index after Sears said it will sell Alexa-enabled appliances on Amazon. Sears shares shot up 14 percent on the news.

The S&P, Dow, and Nasdaq notched record highs Wednesday on the back of better-than-expected earnings.

“We’ve seen a pretty sharp rally lately,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab. “Anytime you see this it’s not unusual to see some people take profits off the table.”

Overall, most companies have reported solid quarterly results thus far in the earnings season. Of the 76 S&P 500 companies that have reported as of Thursday morning, 76 percent have topped earnings expectations while 74 percent have exceeded sales estimates, according to data from The Earnings Scout.

EBay, Microsoft and Visa are some of the major names set to report. Blackstone, Travelers, Philip Morris and Polaris are among the companies that reported earlier on Thursday.

Tech stocks also helped the broader indexes reach records, with the sector closing at its highest level since March 2000 on Wednesday.

Overseas, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said Thursday policymakers would discuss potential changes to its bond-buying program this fall.

The euro erased earlier losses against the U.S. dollar on Draghi’s remarks, trading 1 percent higher at $1.1631.

Draghi delivered his remarks after the ECB kept interest rates unchanged, as was widely expected.

“Draghi is not really committing to anything but it seems that they are headed to a September announcement which they have to be because the current QE is expected to expire in December,” said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group, in a note.

“We know that it will get extended but they need to at least tell the markets what their plan is with that into 2018.”

Fred Imbert

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