Stock Market Today: Stocks Flat Amid Drama in D.C.

The impeachment debate and light volume made for a choppy session that ended with the major indices little changed.

Concept art of stock tickers
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Stock prices were generally unchanged in light trading Wednesday as a major rally in Intel (INTC, +7%) and tame inflation data offset the spectacle of the U.S. House of Representatives' impeachment debate.

Intel, which features prominently in all three major indices, touched a six-month high on news it will replace CEO Bob Swan with VMware (VMW, -6.8%) CEO Pat Gelsinger next month. The chipmaker's stock was the top performer in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which finished flat at 31,060.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department's monthly reading on consumer prices showed inflation remained muted in December, rising at a pace of just 1.4%. Bond yields eased on the inflation data, which also helped keep many stocks above water.

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The benchmark S&P 500 ticked up 0.2% to finish at 3,809, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite added 0.4% to close at 13,128.

Other action in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 index slipped 0.8% to 2,111.
  • Gold futures rose 0.2% to $1,848.50 per ounce.
  • Benchmark U.S. crude oil futures were off 0.6% at $52.91
  • GameStop (GME) surged 58% after short interest in the videogame retailer’s stock exceeded the number of outstanding shares.

Investors should be looking beyond the day-to-day distractions in Washington, D.C.

Rather, they should be focusing on future stimulus measures, vaccine progress and the improved outlook for the economy.

"Many are expecting economic growth to surprise to the upside as more people get vaccinated and resume traveling, going out to eat, and other leisure activities," says Brian Price, head of investment management for Commonwealth Financial Network.

Against that backdrop, market strategists expect cyclical names like financial stocks to outperform. The same bullish view applies to midcap stocks, which typically outpace their larger peers as the economy recovers.

Indeed, many of the best stocks to buy for the year ahead have cyclical tailwinds. Have a look at some of the pros' favorite stock picks for 2021.

Dan Burrows
Senior Investing Writer,

Dan Burrows is Kiplinger's senior investing writer, having joined the august publication full time in 2016.

A long-time financial journalist, Dan is a veteran of SmartMoney, MarketWatch, CBS MoneyWatch, InvestorPlace and DailyFinance. He has written for The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Consumer Reports, Senior Executive and Boston magazine, and his stories have appeared in the New York Daily News, the San Jose Mercury News and Investor's Business Daily, among other publications. As a senior writer at AOL's DailyFinance, Dan reported market news from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and hosted a weekly video segment on equities.

Once upon a time – before his days as a financial reporter and assistant financial editor at legendary fashion trade paper Women's Wear Daily – Dan worked for Spy magazine, scribbled away at Time Inc. and contributed to Maxim magazine back when lad mags were a thing. He's also written for Esquire magazine's Dubious Achievements Awards.

In his current role at Kiplinger, Dan writes about equities, fixed income, currencies, commodities, funds, macroeconomics, demographics, real estate, cost of living indexes and more.

Dan holds a bachelor's degree from Oberlin College and a master's degree from Columbia University.

Disclosure: Dan does not trade stocks or other securities. Rather, he dollar-cost averages into cheap funds and index funds and holds them forever in tax-advantaged accounts.