US stocks closed near flat to slightly higher on Wednesday as lawmakers in the House decide whether to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time while Intel (INTC) soared following a chief executive change, making it the top gainer on the S&P 500.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended just lower at 31,060.47 while the S&P 500 added 0.2% to 3,809.84. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.4% to 13,128.95. Utilities led the sectors higher, while materials lagged.
All three indexes are close to record levels struck last week, on bets for an economic recovery with additional fiscal stimulus and a smooth roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines.
Meanwhile, the US House of Representatives cleared enough votes late Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump for the second time after he stoked last week's deadly riot on Capitol Hill, with a small but significant number of Republican lawmakers joining the impeachment effort.
In corporate news, Intel was up 7% on the chipmaker's announcement that Chief Executive Bob Swan will step down with VMware's (VMW) CEO Pat Gelsinger replacing him from mid-February, triggering a slew of price target upgrades. VMmare shed 7% following the Gelsinger move, and appointed Chief Financial Officer Zane Rowe as interim CEO.
On the energy front, oil prices were lower, with US West Texas Intermediate easing 0.6% to $52.90 per barrel and Brent crude down 1% to $56.03 after industry data showed a weekly draw in US crude stockpiles. Natural gas price was down 0.4% to $2.80 per 1 million BTU.
Among the gainers, Live Ventures (LIVE) jumped 90% after reporting its fiscal 2020 results, with operating profit soaring 527% from a year ago. Synlogic (SYBX) rose 33% after brokerage Chardan doubled its price target to $10. Acorda Therapeutics (ACOR) added 44% after striking a deal to sell its Inbrija manufacturing operations for $80 million in cash.
On the losing side, Provention Bio (PRVB) lost 14% on the sale of six million common shares. Marathon Patent Group (MARA) fell 12% after the company struck a deal to sell $250 million shares in a direct offering. Denmark's Forward Pharma (FWP) shed 14% after an appeal hearing for its EP2801355 patent has been rescheduled to Sept. 6 due to COVID-19.
In the precious metals markets, gold rose 0.3% to $1,848.80 an ounce, and silver added 0.4% to $25.34 an ounce.
Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund dipped 0.3% to $35.80 while the United States Natural Gas Fund gained 0.2% to $9.94. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was 1.1% lower to $35.64 while SPDR Gold Shares was up 0.4% to $173.37. The iShares Silver Trust fell 1.2% to $23.44.