US STOCKS-S&P closes higher with defensive sectors leading gains

Reuters

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 (Updates prices to close, adds comment)
    By Sinéad Carew
    Jan 13 (Reuters) - Wall Street's benchmark S&P 500 index
closed slightly higher on Wednesday with defensive sectors
leading gains as investors waited for details of the next U.S.
fiscal stimulus plan and Congress began President Donald Trump's
impeachment hearings. 
    U.S. Treasury yields pulled back after rising for six
straight sessions, giving a boost to rate-sensitive defensive
sectors such as utilities  .SPlRCU  and real estate  .SPLRCR ,
while economically sensitive cyclical sectors lagged. 
    Intel Corp  INTC.O  advanced quickly, after the chipmaker
said it would replace its Chief Executive Officer Bob Swan with
VMware Inc  VMW.N  CEO Pat Gelsinger next month.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N2JO31T
    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.
    But a day before details of incoming President Joe Biden's
fiscal relief plan was due to be announced, investors appeared
to pull to the sidelines.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2JJ2BL
    "Investors have been for some time looking to the second
half of 2021. They continue to hope for a real reopening," said
Mona Mahajan, U.S. Investment Strategist, Allianz Global
Investors, New York. 
    Referring to the Treasury yield decline, Mahajan said: "A
day like today is probably natural after a long run. Some of the
laggard (stock sectors) are leading."
    As U.S. House of Representatives gathered to consider a
second impeachment for Trump after the Capitol invasion by his
supporters which left five dead, some investors were watching to
see 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 utilities and real estate lead percentage gains among
the 11 major S&P sectors during the session the biggest losers
were the more economically sensitive 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.
    Unofficially, the Dow Jones Industrial Average  .DJI  fell
8.22 points, or 0.03%, to 31,060.47, the S&P 500  .SPX  gained
8.65 points, or 0.23%, to 3,809.84 and the Nasdaq Composite
 .IXIC  added 56.52 points, or 0.43%, to 13,128.95.
    The S&P had expanded its gains temporarily in the late
afternoon before losing ground again after the Federal Reserve
released its "Beige Book" report which 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
    Most of the 11 major S&P sectors gained ground. After
boasting a record closing high in the previous day's session,
the Russell 2000  .RUT  pulled back slightly and the S&P growth
index  .IGX  outperformed the value index  .IVX .
    Earnings reports from big U.S. banks including JPMorgan
 JPM.N  and Citigroup  C.N  were also on investors minds as they
will mark the unofficial start to the fourth-quarter earnings
season on Friday. 
    Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc's  REGN.O  shares climbed 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 after the Intel news.

 (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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