Stocks steady as traders eye historic Trump impeachment bid
World markets were steady and the dollar rose against other major currencies Wednesday, with traders on edge ahead of the likely historic second impeachment of US President Donald Trump, dealers said.
Sentiment was capped also by worries about the surge in Covid-19 infections, which has caused several countries to reimpose lockdowns as they battle to roll out vaccines.
Wall Street opened with the Dow flat and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite drifting higher.
In afternoon deals, London stocks edged 0.1 percent lower, while Frankfurt and Paris showed modest gains.
Shares crept higher in Asia earlier with hopes for another vast US virus relief package largely offset by the political upheaval in Washington.
Oil prices slid while bitcoin rose.
"The impeachment of President Trump looked a long shot over the weekend -- but if US press reports are to be believed, momentum appears to be building toward larger support within the Republican Party to impeach," noted MUFG economist Derek Halpenny.
"The shift is being fuelled by more violent footage of the attack on Capitol Hill last week -- with matters made worse by Trump's lack of remorse."
Democrats are pushing ahead with impeachment proceedings against Trump, who is accused of inciting last week's storming of the Capitol Building.
In response, Trump has warned of "tremendous anger" across the country, while there are concerns of further unrest ahead of Joe Biden's January 20 inauguration.
Trump's second impeachment could overshadow Biden's first few months in office and distract from his goal of pushing through a third rescue package for the US economy that he has said would be worth trillions of dollars.
"A lot changes in a week and that timeframe has taken Donald Trump from hoping to overturn his election loss -- to merely hoping he can remain in the White House for another week," said IG analyst Joshua Mahony.
In London, the British pound rallied as high as $1.3701, close to a 2.5-year peak, after Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey distanced himself from the idea of negative interest rates -- but he still warned Britain faced its "darkest hour" due to the virus fallout.
The Bank of England last year slashed its key interest rate to a record-low 0.1 percent as it sought to counter the impact from the coronavirus pandemic, sparking speculation it could even move into negative territory.
- Key figures around 1430 GMT -
London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.1 percent at 6,747.26 points
Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP less than 0.1 percent at 13,935.26
Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.3 percent at 5,666.94
EURO STOXX 50: UP less than 0.1 percent at 3,614.15
New York - Dow: FLAT at 31,068.91
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.0 percent at 28,456.59 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.2 percent at 28,235.60 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.3 percent at 3,598.65 (close)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2160 from $1.2207 at 2200 GMT
Dollar/yen: UP at 103.93 from 103.76 yen
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3649 from $1.3664
Euro/pound: DOWN at 89.05 pence from 89.34 pence
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.5 percent at $52.95 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.8 percent at $56.15 per barrel
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