The Dow and S&P 500 ended slightly lower on Wednesday but equity gauges finished not far from their best levels in weeks as concerns about White House drama and a crystallizing view of Federal Reserve policy competed for investors‘ attention in an earnings season that has mostly underpinned stock buying. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down about 90 points, or 0.3%, at 25,718, the S&P 500 index finished the day mostly flat at 2,861, about 10 points of its all-time high last hit on Jan. 26. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index bucked the trend, finishing with a gain of 0.4% at 7,889, marking the third highest close for the technology-laden benchmark in its history. The Russell 2000 index of small-capitalization stocks, meanwhile, put in its second record close in succession, up about 0.2%. Wednesday‘s trading action came as the Fed indicated that it planned on and as soon as September, but acknowledged risks from normalizing postcrisis monetary policy. Fed members also said they were mindful of the potential economic impacts from tariff battles between the U.S. and global partners. All of that action came against the backdrop of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort being found guilty on eight charges including tax fraud late Tuesday, and the president‘s former lawyer Michael Cohen saying that he violated campaign-finance law at President Donald Trump‘s direction. The overall move for the equity benchmarks has helped the bull run sustain itself from a low on March 9, 2009 to its 3,453rd day, surpassing the previous record set between 1990 and 2000, by some market participants‘ reckoning. There is no ultimate arbiter of bearish and bullish market cycles.
Have breaking news sent to your inbox. Subscribe to MarketWatch's free Bulletin emails.