US STOCKS-Wall St gains steadily while impeachment hearings get underway

Reuters

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    * Intel jumps on replacing CEO, VMware falls
    * Regeneron up as U.S. govt orders more COVID-19 therapy
doses
    * Indexes up : Dow 0.23%, S&P 0.49%, Nasdaq 0.72%

 (Updates prices, adds comment, New York dateline, changes
byline)
    By Sinéad Carew
    Jan 13 (Reuters) - Wall Street's three major indexes were
advancing slightly after Wednesday's choppy morning session as
investors appeared to be taking a wait-and-see approach while
Congress began impeachment hearings.
    Intel Corp  INTC.O  was the S&P's biggest percentage gainer,
up more than 7%, after the chipmaker announced the replacement
of its Chief Executive Officer Bob Swan with VMware Inc  VMW.N 
CEO Pat Gelsinger next month.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N2JO31T
    The S&P added to gains later in the afternoon right after
the Federal Reserve released its "Beige Book" report. It,
however, showed U.S. economic activity increasing modestly in
recent weeks as employment dropped in a growing number of Fed
districts due to a surge in coronavirus infections.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nW1N2HY02E
    Wall Street's main indexes had hit record highs last week 
on expectations for a hefty COVID-19 relief package even as an
attack on Capitol Hill ramped up political uncertainty.
    As U.S. House of Representatives gathered to consider a
second impeachment for President Donald Trump after the Capitol
invasion by his supporters which left five dead, some investors
worried that was whether impeachment could delay stimulus or
other parts of in-coming President Joe Biden's agenda.
 urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2JO18O   
    "The headlines coming in are causing some near term jitters
but it looks like investors are looking past that to the rest of
the year," said Shawn Cruz, senior market strategist at TD
Ameritrade in Jersey City, New Jersey. 
    While defensive sectors such as utilities  .SPLRCU  and real
estate  .SPLRCR  were leading percentage gains among the 11
major S&P sectors, the biggest losers were the more economically
sensitive cyclical sectors such as materials  .SPLRCM  and
industrials  .SPLRCI . 
    "Investors are in wait-and-see mode for now ... if you're
moving to the sidelines you probably might want to be moving out
of cyclicals," said Cruz.
    By 2:29 p.m. ET (1929 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average
 .DJI  rose 72.19 points, or 0.23%, to 31,140.88, the S&P 500
 .SPX  gained 18.68 points, or 0.49%, to 3,819.87 and the Nasdaq
Composite  .IXIC  added 93.67 points, or 0.72%, to 13,166.11.
    Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were gaining ground. After
boasting a record closing high in the previous day's session,
the Russell 2000  .RUT  pulled back slightly and gains in the
S&P growth index  .IGX  outperformed the value index  .IVX .
    David Spika, president of GuideStone Capital Management in
Dallas, Texas cited concerns about extremely high valuations and
slower than expected vaccine rollouts.  
    "The expectation is that we'll have a significant increase
in earnings and economic growth in 2021, but both are really
dependent the vaccine," he said.
    Earnings reports from big U.S. banks including JPMorgan
 JPM.N  and Citigroup  C.N  will mark the unofficial start to
the fourth-quarter earnings season on Friday. 
    Exxon Mobil Corp  XOM.N  rose 1.7% after J.P. Morgan
upgraded the stock to "overweight," saying cuts in capital
spending had put the oil major on track for a stronger
performance.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N2JO2CP
    Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc  REGN.O  climbed 1.3% as the
U.S. government said it would buy 1.25 million additional doses
of its COVID-19 antibody cocktail for about $2.63 billion.
 urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N2JN48Z
    Shares of VMware fell 7.6% after the Intel news.
    Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a
1.36-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.01-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
    The S&P 500 posted 43 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the
Nasdaq Composite recorded 239 new highs and three new lows.  

 (Additional reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by
Marguerita Choy)
 ((sinead.carew@thomsonreuters.com; +1 (646) 223 6186; Reuters
Messaging: sinead.carew.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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