Stocks Move Higher as Markets Yawn at Trump’s Impeachment

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(Associated Press) U.S. stocks moved higher in midday trading Thursday following encouraging profit reports from several big companies.

Trading around the world was mostly listless, as markets took a pause after a run higher in recent weeks. Stocks, bonds, gold and a gauge measuring fear among traders on Wall Street all made only slight moves, if any, in the first day of trading after President Donald Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representatives.

Trump had warned months ago that his impeachment would roil markets, but traders say it has virtually no impact. That’s mostly because they see it as extremely unlikely that Trump or his market-friendly policies will leave office before the end of his term.

IMPEACHMENT: Trump became just the third U.S. president to be impeached after the House voted Wednesday on charges of abuse of power and obstructing Congress in an investigation.

Trump, who has often reveled on Twitter when stock prices are rising, warned in October that “The Impeachment Hoax is hurting our Stock Market.” While markets certainly do like Trump’s low-tax and light-regulation approach to the economy, investors say his impeachment means very little to stock prices.

A gauge measuring how worried traders are about upcoming swings for the S&P 500 was down 0.6%, for example.

That’s because traders see little chance of a Republican-controlled Senate voting to remove Trump from office. Even if the unlikely were to occur and Trump left office, investors don’t see Vice President Mike Pence raising taxes or tightening regulations.

STRONG FEED: Conagra Brands surged 18.3 % for the biggest gain in the S&P 500 after it reported stronger profit and revenue for the latest quarter than Wall Street forecast due in part to sales of frozen and snack foods.

TECH SWING: Micron Technology rose 3.1 % after it reported stronger profit for the latest quarter than analysts expected. Its CEO also said it expects this quarter to mark “the cyclical bottom for our financial performance.”

YIELDS: Treasury yields held relatively steady as the 10-year Treasury yield remained at 1.92%. The two-year yield dipped to 1.61% from 1.62% late Wednesday, and the 30-year yield rose to 2. 36 % from 2.35%.

NOT SO NEGATIVE: Sweden’s central bank raised its benchmark interest rate to zero, ending a yearslong experiment to shock the economy into stronger growth through negative rates. Riksbank set a world first in the summer of 2009, when it cut another key interest rate, its deposit rate, below zero.

Other central banks have also tried to stimulate their economies and inflation higher through negative rates. Sweden’s move could raise expectations that they may also end their negative-rate experiments, but the Bank of Japan on Thursday left its short-term policy rate unchanged at -0.1%.

ECONOMIC SIGNS: Reports on the U.S. economy were mixed. Fewer workers applied for jobless benefits last week than the prior week, but the number was higher than economists forecast.

A report by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve said that manufacturing activity was nearly flat in the region last month. The pace of sales of previously occupied homes also weakened last month, as more Americans get priced out of the rising housing market.

COMMODITIES: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 45 cents to $61.30 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, added 50 cents to $66.67.

Gold inched up $1.70 to $1,4780.40 per ounce.