By Geoffrey Smith
Investing.com — U.S. stock markets opened modestly higher on Wednesday, shrugging off any disappointment felt at the U.S. Senate’s refusal to fast-track a vote on raising the direct payments to households provided for by the latest stimulus bill.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to timetable a vote on increasing the payments to $2,000 from $600 on Tuesday, defying President Donald Trump. He later reintroduced the proposal in a separate bill but tied it to conditions that have no chance of passing the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.
By 9:35 AM ET (1435 GMT), the was up 93 points, or 0.3%, at 30,429 points, while the and the were also up 0.3%. In the previous session, all three indices had retreated a little after posting posting fresh all-time highs on Monday.
On a light day for economic and corporate news flow, the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index posted a surprising increase for December, while nationwide fell for the third month in a row in November – by 2.6% rather than the 0.2% drop expected – in a fresh sign that the red hot housing market is cooling off a little.
Among early movers, Intel (NASDAQ:) stock fell 1.0%, giving up some of its gains on Tuesday after the announcement that activist investor Third Point (NYSE:) had taken a stake in the chipmaker. Third Point wants Intel to consider splitting its design and manufacturing operations and possibly sell some assets. The company has missed out on the tech rally since spring, due to the loss of key contracts with Apple (NASDAQ:) and a delay to production of its new generation of chips.
AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:) ADRs rose 1.0% after the U.K.’s health authorities approved its Covid-19 vaccine for distribution. It’s the first regulatory approval for a vaccine that accounts for over a third of advance sales to public health buyers across the world to date. AstraZeneca is unlikely to make much money on the drug in the near term, having agreed to sell it ‘at cost’ while the pandemic lasts. There is some doubt over when the company can declare an end to that phase.
Elsewhere, Snap (NYSE:) stock gave up some of its gains after jumping on Tuesday in response to a chunky price target upgrade from Goldman Sachs for the social media company. Snap was down 2.1%. Caterpillar (NYSE:) stock was up 2.4% meanwhile, after the brokerage Baird named it as a top ‘idea’ for 2021. The heavy equipment manufacturer, which is often seen as a bellwether for business investment globally, is closing out 2020 with a 12% gain for the year.
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