Stocks traded lower on Wednesday after Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey wrapped the White House in another controversy, worrying investors holding out for progress on Trump's business-friendly agenda.
The S&P 500 was down 0.07%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.17%, and the Nasdaq slid 0.21%.
"I think the biggest issue is what this does to the Trump agenda in taxes," said Matthew Peterson, chief wealth strategist for LPL Financial. "The market really is expecting a cut. We still feel it's a matter of when, not if a cut happens. But any thought this gets pushed to '18 is a market negative."
The White House pointed to Comey's handling of the investigation into former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's private email server as reason for the firing. However, Trump frequently praised Comey's decision to go public with details of the investigation on the campaign trail.
"The president has accepted the recommendation of the attorney general and the deputy attorney general regarding the dismissal of the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation," White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters in a briefing.
The FBI notified Congress earlier Tuesday that during a Capitol Hill hearing last week, Comey had misstated key findings from the agency's probe into Clinton's email server. Comey had said that "hundreds and thousands" of Clinton's emails from her time as U.S. secretary of state had been forwarded to disgraced former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner from his wife, former Clinton aide Huma Abedin. But the FBI said Tuesday that only a "small number'" actually went to Weiner.
Comey was leading an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called upon Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is currently in charge of the investigation into Russian connections, to hand off the case to a special prosecutor.
"Every American will rightly suspect that the decision to fire Director Comey was part of a cover-up" unless an independent investigation takes place, Schumer told reporters on Tuesday evening.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissed the need for a special prosecutor on Wednesday. McConnell said that a new investigation would "only serve to impede the current work being done."
The Nasdaq closed at a record for the third session in a row on Tuesday as volatility held at its lowest level in more than two decades. The tech-heavy index has closed at records 30 times so far this year. Volatility held at its lowest level in more than two decades on Tuesday. The Volatility Index, often referred to as the fear index, was trading at 9.84, its lowest since late 1993.
Jim Cramer laid out the powerful themes driving this bull market over on our premium site Real Money. Get his insights with a free trial subscription to Real Money.
Crude oil prices rose on Wednesday after a weekly reading on U.S. stockpiles showed a large decline. U.S. inventories declined by 5.2 million barrels in the past week, according to the Energy Information Administration. Analysts anticipated a decline of 1.8 million barrels. Gasoline and distillates stockpiles also dropped.
West Texas Intermediate crude oil declined by 2.6% to $47.11 a barrel on Wednesday.
Import and export prices both rose in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Import prices in the U.S. increased 0.5% last month following a 0.1% rise a month earlier. Export prices rose 0.2% in April, double the increase in March.
Disney (DIS) - Get Report fell 3% after beating profit estimates, but falling short of revenue forecasts. The world's largest entertainment company earned $1.50 a share, 9 cents above expectations. Sales increased 2.9% to $13.34 billion, coming in $110 million below consensus.
Sales and operating income at Disney's cable-TV group, which includes ESPN and the Disney Channel, fell 3%, as ratings slipped and a new multi-year contract priced at more than $600 million began with the National Basketball Association. Advertising at ESPN fell 1% in the quarter.
Disney's parks have become the most stable part of the company's many businesses, and over the next two years CEO Bob Iger said they should account for as much as two-thirds of earnings growth as new resorts open in Tokyo, Paris and Shanghai. The parks and resorts unit group posted a 20% growth in operating income on a 9% jump in sales.
Yelp (YELP) - Get Report lost one-fifth of its value after quarterly revenue missed expectations. The online reviews site earned 19 cents a share, 3 cents higher than consensus. Revenue surged 24.4% to $197.32 million, but fell short of estimates by $1.28 million. Yelp again lowered its full-year revenue guidance as the company faced difficulties enticing local advertisers.
Sotheby's (BID) - Get Report rose 0.3% even as quarterly sales missed estimates. The auction house narrowed its loss to 21 cents a share from 41 cents in the year-ago quarter. Consensus was for a loss of 38 cents a share. Revenue increased to $99.5 million, but fell short of analysts' target of $111 million.
Fossil Group (FOSL) - Get Report shares fell 23% after the maker of fashion accessories posted a loss of $1 a share for the period ended April 1, steeper than the loss of 27 cents that analysts surveyed at Factset expected. The company posted revenue of $581.8 million, lower than Wall Street's estimates for $591 million. The company also issued an outlook below expectations.
Mylan (MYL) - Get Report topped profit estimates over its recent quarter. The EpiPen maker earned an adjusted 93 cents a share, a penny higher than expected. However, revenue of $2.72 billion came in $100 million less than expected as the drugmaker faced increased competition from other allergic reaction medicines.
Nvidia (NVDA) - Get Report surged 13% after breezing past earnings estimates. Net income of 79 cents a share was more than double a year earlier and beat consensus by 12 cents. Revenue of $1.94 billion came in higher than a target of $1.91 billion.
Time (TIME) plummeted more than 15% after its executive chairman, Joe Ripp, resigned and the company's quarterly dividend was cut to 4 cents a share from 19 cents. The publisher also said it would no longer issue quarterly revenue forecasts. The company has been in the crosshairs since deciding against selling itself weeks ago.
Other earnings of note include Electronic Arts (EA) - Get Report , Nuance Communications (NUAN) - Get Report , Priceline (PCLN) , SunPower (SPWR) - Get Report , TripAdvisor (TRIP) - Get Report , TrueCar (CAR) - Get Report , Wendy's (WEN) - Get Report , Vitamin Shoppe (VSI) - Get Report , Sodastream (SODA) - Get Report , and Pinnacle Entertainment (PNK) - Get Report .
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