US Stocks Struggle for Gains Amid Political Uncertainty

S&P 500 Index settles off records as political uncertainty drags.


US stocks finished mixed on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 giving back intraday records as political turmoil in Washington cast doubts about President Trump’s ability to implement a pro-growth agenda.

The S&P 500 Index (NYSEARCA:SPY) closed down 0.1% at 2,400.67, with eight of 11 sectors finishing in negative territory.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (NYSEARCA:DIA) gave back early gains to finish flat at 20,979.75.

Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index (NYSEARCA:QQQ) rose to fresh record highs, gaining 0.3% to 6,169.87.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) Volatility Index (NYSEARCA:VXX) rose for a second consecutive day, but continued to signal underlying complacency in the market. The so-called “fear index” edged up 2.2% to 10.65.

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Investors on Tuesday parsed through reports that President Donald Trump had shared counter-terrorism intelligence with Russian officials. Those reports were later confirmed by Trump and defended by White House National Security Adviser H.R McMaster, who said the conversations with the Russians were “wholly appropriate.”

Trump’s approval rating has plummeted in the wake of his firing FBI director James Comey, allegedly over the bureau’s handling of the Clinton email scandal.

In commodities, oil prices snapped a four-day winning streak to settle below $49.00 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures reached a session high of $49.38, which would have been good enough for three-week highs.

The Final Word: Stocks continue to trade near record highs, but political discord in Washington could undermine the Trump rally. In the meantime, the CBOE VIX continues to trade at around half of its historical average.