Stock Market Today: Stocks Ease From Highs in Choppy Trading After GOP Senate Win

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks eased back from earlier session highs during a choppy trading day in which investors digested news of the GOP seizing control of the Senate. The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average were gaining with the Dow just shy of its all-time high of 17,481 achieved around the market open.

The shift in power in the Senate is believed to herald new pro-business economic policy in the final two years of Barack Obama's presidency. Economic woes were at the top of the list of concerns for voters headed into the mid-term elections Tuesday with 70% noting that current conditions were poor, according to preliminary exit polls.

Watch the video below for a closer look at how U.S. markets are doing in midday trading Wednesday:

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The economic recovery appears intact, though, even as citizens' confidence is shaken. The private sector added 230,000 jobs in October, according to ADP employment data, compared to analysts' estimates for a 220,000 gain. A month earlier, a revised 225,000 jobs were added to the private sector.

"The job market is steadily picking up pace," Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, said in a statement. "At this pace of job growth unemployment and underemployment is quickly declining. The job market will soon be tight enough to support a meaningful acceleration in wage growth."

The Dow added 0.43%, the S&P 500 climbed 0.44% and the Nasdaq fell 0.14% in afternoon trading on Wednesday.

Though the Senate win gave markets an immediate boost, Raymond James' analyst Jeffrey Saut warned in a note that "much of the long-term impact will likely be predicated on how far President Obama is willing to go to cooperate with the new conservative majority."

The ISM non-manufacturing index for October clocked in at 57.1, just shy of estimates for 58, though remaining above 50, the threshold for economic expansion. Business activity slipped to 60 from 62.9 a month earlier, and new orders fell to 59.1 from 61.

"What we are unimpressed with is the bigger picture downturn from the recent high-water mark when the composite index ran at a reading of 59.6 over the summer," Andrew Wilkinson, chief market analyst at Interactive Brokers, wrote in a research report. "We know that the external environment is relatively weak, yet the ISM services reading is largely a reflection of domestic activity."

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Crude oil inventories increased 0.5 million barrels in the week ending October, according to the EIA Petroleum report. Commercial oil inventories now stand at 380.2 million barrels, putting it in the upper half of the average range of the year-ago period.

The price of West Texas intermediate crude oil spiked 1.7% to $78.47 a barrel, partially recovering from a drop of more than 2% a day earlier. Commodities were crushed after Saudi Arabia slashed the price of imports for December delivery by 45 cents from a month earlier on Monday.

Energy stocks were on the rise after being pummeled a day earlier. Exxon Mobil (XOM) climbed 0.76%, Chevron (CVX) spiked 0.98%, and industry exchange-traded fund Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) added 1.5%. 

Devon Energy (DVN) was one of the best performers on the S&P after beating analyst consensus for its third quarter by 7 cents a share. Shares added 9.3%. 

21st Century Fox  (FOXA)  was trading 3.5% higher after reporting double-digit revenue growth in its quarter on the back of runaway hit films The Fault in Our Stars and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Competitor Time Warner (TWX)  was adding 3% after reporting third-quarter profit of $1.22 a share, 28 cents higher than expected. Revenue growth at HBO was particularly strong, up nearly 10% to $1.3 billion.

DISH Network (DISH) was declining for its second consecutive day, down 0.7%. On Tuesday, the satellite TV provider reported it lost 12,000 subscribers in its most recent quarter and profits of 31 cents a share fell short of analysts' estimates by 8 cents. 

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TripAdvisor (TRIP) , the worst performer of the S&P, was tumbling 14.6% after missing quarterly profit expectations by 12 cents a share, even as revenue spiked nearly 40%. A day earlier, fellow online travel site Priceline (PCLN)  lost nearly 10% after issuing weaker-than-expected guidance.

Intel (INTC) shares were losing 1.7%, dragging on the Dow, after Bernstein Research downgraded the chipmaker to "underperform" from "market growth" on doubts over its above-market PC growth.

Mondelez (MDLZ)  spiked 6% after topping profit estimates and raising its full-year guidance to as much as $1.72 a share.

Telsa (TSLA) , CBS (CBS)  and Whole Foods (WFM)  are due to report after market close.

--Written by Keris Alison Lahiff in New York.

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