Stock prices were generally unchanged in light trading Wednesday as a major rally in Intel (INTC, +7%) and tame inflation data offset the spectacle of the U.S. House of Representatives’ impeachment debate.
Intel, which features prominently in all three major indices, touched a six-month high on news it will replace CEO Bob Swan with VMware (VMW, -6.8%) CEO Pat Gelsinger next month. The chipmaker’s stock was the top performer in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which finished flat at 31,060.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department’s monthly reading on consumer prices showed inflation remained muted in December, rising at a pace of just 1.4%. Bond yields eased on the inflation data, which also helped keep many stocks above water.
The benchmark S&P 500 ticked up 0.2% to finish at 3,809, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite added 0.4% to close at 13,128.
Other action in the stock market today:
- The small-cap Russell 2000 index slipped 0.8% to 2,111.
- Gold futures rose 0.2% to $1,848.50 per ounce.
- Benchmark U.S. crude oil futures were off 0.6% at $52.91
- GameStop (GME) surged 58% after short interest in the videogame retailer’s stock exceeded the number of outstanding shares.
Investors should be looking beyond the day-to-day distractions in Washington, D.C.
Rather, they should be focusing on future stimulus measures, vaccine progress and the improved outlook for the economy.
“Many are expecting economic growth to surprise to the upside as more people get vaccinated and resume traveling, going out to eat, and other leisure activities,” says Brian Price, head of investment management for Commonwealth Financial Network.
Against that backdrop, market strategists expect cyclical names like financial stocks to outperform. The same bullish view applies to midcap stocks, which typically outpace their larger peers as the economy recovers.
Indeed, many of the best stocks to buy for the year ahead have cyclical tailwinds. Have a look at some of the pros’ favorite stock picks for 2021.