Stocks finished flat on Wednesday, shortly before the House voted to impeach President Donald Trump. Investors also keyed on expectations that the incoming administration of Joe Biden will boost government spending.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 8 points, or 0.03%, to 31,060, and the S&P 500 rose 0.23%.
The Nasdaq Composite gained 0.43%, led by Intel (INTC) - Get Report, which finished up nearly 7%. The chipmaker said that Chief Executive Bob Swan would step down in February, with VMware (VMW) - Get Report CEO Pat Gelsinger succeeding him.
Trump became the first U.S. president to be impeached twice. The vote followed last week’s attack on the Capitol by the president’s supporters. The vote, 232-197, reflected the Democratic majority and the support of 10 Republicans.
The House sets up what could be an equally historic vote in the Senate. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), the outgoing Senate majority leader, has said he won't reconvene the upper chamber before its scheduled return Jan. 19. That means such a vote could take place only after Trump leaves office.
Vice President Mike Pence rejected a call to invoke the 25th Amendment, which would have declared the president unable to execute his duties. Pence said in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that it would "set a terrible precedent."
Pelosi said Wednesday that Trump must be impeached and "I believe the president must be convicted by the Senate, a constitutional remedy that will ensure that the Republic will be safe from this man who is so resolutely determined to tear down the things that we hold dear, and that hold us together."
“It gives me no pleasure to say this. It breaks my heart. It should break all of our hearts,” she added.
The president, in a statement released during the vote, called for calm:
“In light of reports of more demonstrations, I urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind. That is not what I stand for, and it is not what America stands for. I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers."
Biden, meanwhile, is expected to unveil his economic plan Thursday. The president-elect has promised further economic stimulus “in the trillions of dollars.”
Equities were also getting a lift from comments from two Federal Reserve officials who said it was premature to think about tapering bond purchases later this year while the economy was still struggling through the coronavirus pandemic. Taper talk has increased lately in tandem with discussions of more relief spending.
Treasury yields declined Wednesday following the comments from the central bank officials.
The benchmark yield on the 10-year Treasury bond was at 1.088% on Wednesday, down from a 10-month high of 1.187%.
Inflation data released Wednesday, meanwhile, showed only a 0.4% uptick in consumer prices during December. Prices are expected to rise as the economy gets back on track, according to economists.