By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch , Ryan Vlastelica
Investors looking for response to Russia allegations
U.S. stocks were little changed on Wednesday, as investors stayed on the sidelines ahead of a much-anticipated news conference from President-elect Donald Trump.
Markets have advanced since Trump's election in early November, with major indexes hitting repeated records, although that rally has shown signs of stalling of late, with some analysts worried that the gains have gotten overdone. If Trump attempts to tamper downexpectations, or if he fails to reassure investors about the recent allegations that Russia may hold compromising information (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/russia-may-hold-compromising-information-on-trump-cnn-reports-2017-01-10) on him, that could spur heavy volatility.
Need to know:The biggest risk as markets shrug at the Trump-Russia imbroglio (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-biggest-risk-as-markets-shrug-at-the-trump-russia-imbroglio-2017-01-11)
"If the press conference does not give direction to the markets, then this consolidation could continue to Trump's inauguration next Friday," said Richard Perry, market analyst at Hantec Markets, in a note.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 24 points, or 0.1%, to 19,883, while the S&P 500 index dipped less than 1 point to 2,268. The Nasdaq Composite , which reached its fourth-straight record close on Tuesday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-stocks-stuck-in-waiting-game-ahead-of-trumps-news-conference-2017-01-10), rose 1 point to 5,553.
Read: Gross says this key bond level is a far bigger deal than Dow 20,000 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bill-gross-says-this-key-treasury-level-is-far-more-important-than-dow-20000-2017-01-10)
Trump's news conference--expected at 11 a.m. Eastern Time (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/what-time-is-donald-trumps-press-conference-on-wednesday-2017-01-11)--will be his first formal news conference since July. As Perry pointed out, markets are "hoping for further clues over the direction of fiscal policy, which has had so many hopes pinned to."
The cautious tone for markets comes after an exuberant postelection rally that finished 2016 on a high note. Trump's victory spurred hopes that he would advocate for deregulation and tax cuts, which are seen as policies that could accelerate economic growth.
Investors will wait to see whether Trump comments on allegations that Russia may hold compromising information (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/russia-may-hold-compromising-information-on-trump-cnn-reports-2017-01-10) on the president-to-be and that Russian agents conspired with Trump campaign advisers and some of his company employees. The president-elect has dismissed the reports as a "total political witch hunt (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-blasts-russian-allegations-as-total-political-witch-hunt-2017-01-11)" on Twitter. Analysts will also be looking for insight into his legislative priorities, particularly with respect to economic policy.
Read:Democracy needs you to survive, Obama says in emotional farewell address (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/democracy-needs-you-to-survive-obama-says-in-emotional-farewell-address-2017-01-10)
Economic docket: No key data releases or Federal Reserve speakers are scheduled for Wednesday. But investors will hear from several Fed officials over the next two days, including Chairwoman Janet Yellen, and retail sales data are due Friday.
Stocks to watch:Supervalu Inc.(SVU) reported sales below forecasts (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/supervalu-sales-falls-below-expectations-2017-01-11), sending shares down 6.7% in early trading.
Merck & Co.(MRK) rose 4.8% after the drugmaker said the Food and Drug Administration would grant a priority review for one of its lung-cancer drug treatments (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/merck-shares-rise-after-hours-on-priority-review-lung-cancer-drug-application-2017-01-10).
Ford Motor Co.(F) announced a special dividend and gave updates on its forecasts late Tuesday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ford-says-profits-will-improve-in-2018-declares-special-dividend-2017-01-10). (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ford-says-profits-will-improve-in-2018-declares-special-dividend-2017-01-10) Shares fell 2%.
Read: Is this the year for stock pickers? Here are 20 picks from Citi (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/is-this-the-year-for-stock-pickers-here-are-20-picks-from-citi-2017-01-10)
Other markets: European stocks traded mostly flat (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-wander-before-trump-takes-center-stage-2017-01-11), while in Asia , stocks outside of China broadly rose (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/asian-markets-off-to-the-races-hoping-trump-will-reveal-stimulus-details-2017-01-11).
The dollar regained some strength across the board (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dollar-perks-up-but-big-moves-on-hold-ahead-of-trump-conference-2017-01-11), rising 0.5%, with particular strength against the British pound , which weakened after a reports on industrial production and the trade deficit.
Oil prices rebounded 1.2% after two straight day of losses (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-struggles-after-two-days-of-losses-with-focus-now-on-us-data-2017-01-11), with investors fixatedon a report on U.S. supply data due later. Gold prices fell 0.1%.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 11, 2017 09:45 ET (14:45 GMT)
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