Wall Street mixed after Trump fires FBI head; Nasdaq hits record high

(Reuters) - U.S. stocks were mixed on Wednesday as investors digested President Donald Trump’s abrupt dismissal of his FBI chief as well as corporate earnings from Walt Disney and Nvidia.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost ground, while the Nasdaq closed at a record high.

Trump said he fired Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey over his handling of an email scandal involving then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

However, Comey had also been leading an investigation into whether Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russia.

Wall Street viewed the turmoil in Washington as the latest of several distractions from Trump’s promises to cut taxes and boost spending on infrastructure. The stock market has surged to record highs under Trump due to expectations he will stimulate the economy and boost corporate earnings.

“This certainly is not reducing that contentious environment,” said Eric Wiegand, a New York-based senior portfolio manager at the Private Client Reserve at U.S. Bank. “The focal point for investors is tax reform.”

With first-quarter earnings season nearly over, investors were looking toward April retail sales data, due out on Friday, for new clues about the economy’s health.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., May 10, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

“A lot of us have Q2 significantly stronger. Economic data really needs to show they can support our forecasts,” said Paul Christopher, head global market strategist for Wells Fargo Investment Institute in St. Louis, Missouri.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 0.16 percent to end at 20,943.11 while the S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.11 percent to 2,399.63.

The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 0.14 percent to reach a record high close 6,129.14.

After the bell, Snap SNAP.N slumped 18 percent as the Snapchat-owner's first quarterly report disappointed investors.

Eight of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors rose during the session, with energy .SPNY jumping 1.06 percent, helped by a 3.5-percent jump in oil prices CLc1LCOc1. Consumer discretionary .SPLRCD lost 0.28 percent and industrials .SPLRCI dropped 0.39 percent. Fueling the Nasdaq's record high, Nvidia NVDA.O surged 17.83 percent after the chipmaker reported a better-than-expected jump in quarterly revenue. Shares of rival AMD AMD.O rose 5.99 percent.

Disney DIS.N fell 2.15 percent and was the strongest drag on the Dow after the media company reported lower-than-expected quarterly revenue and a decline in the number of ESPN subscribers.

Allergan AGN.N dropped 3.69 percent after the Botox-maker posted a quarterly loss as it took a writedown on the value of its stake in Teva Pharmaceutical TEVA.TA.

Priceline PCLN.O tumbled 4.54 percent after the travel website operator forecast current-quarter earnings below analysts' expectations.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.89-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.26-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 29 new 52-week highs and two new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 131 new highs and 68 new lows.

About 6.7 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, in line with the daily average over the last 20 sessions.

Additional reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru, and Rodrigo Campos and Sinead Carew in New York; Editing by James Dalgleish