U.S. equities closed higher on Wednesday as investors hoped the testimony from former FBI chief James Comey will be less damaging to President Donald Trump than previously feared.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose about 35 points, with Boeing and UnitedHealth contributing the most gains. The S&P 500 advanced 0.15 percent as
West Texas Intermediate futures for July delivery shed 5.13 percent to settle at $45.72 a barrel after the Energy Information Administration reported a surprise build in crude inventories.
The Senate Intelligence Committee released Comey’s full opening remarks Wednesday afternoon, at which time the major indexes traded back near session highs.
In the written statement, Comey said he understood Trump to be asking him to “drop” the probe into Flynn when they spoke in February. “[Trump] then said, ‘I hope you can see your way clear to
Dow intraday chart (Comey testimony release time circled)
“I would say everything is pretty benign here,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab. “The fact that we’re rising here implies that the market was looking for something more damning.”
Comey is slated to testify in front of the committee on Thursday and answer questions, marking the first time he publically speaks since being fired from his post.
Trump abruptly fired Comey last month. While Comey was FBI chief, Trump allegedly asked Comey to ease off on a probe into Michael Flynn, the former national security advisor. The Washington Post reported Tuesday night that Trump asked his top intelligence official to get Comey to back off on Flynn’s investigation.
“We’ll get a lot of theater for sure, but the market has been able to look through the noise,” said Mark Spellman, portfolio manager at Alpine Funds. “Unless we get Comey suggesting the president participated in a criminal activity, the market will look beyond that.”
The stock market has mostly traded sideways this week as investors hold off on making big bets ahead of Comey’s testimony.