U.S. equities closed higher in choppy trade on Wednesday, shrugging off a sharp decline in health care stocks following remarks made by President-elect Donald Trump.
"We have to get our drug industry coming back. Our drug industry has gotten disastrous. They're leaving left and right," Trump said at his first news conference since winning the U.S. election.
The Nasdaq composite fell after Trump made his remarks, as the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB) fell 3 percent. The tech-heavy index, however, ended the session 0.2 percent higher at a record closing level. The S&P 500 advanced 0.3 percent, shrugging off a 1 percent decline in health care. Energy stocks led the way in the S&P, rising 1.2 percent.
Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab, said the stock market has largely given Trump the benefit of the doubt. He said that would change after the inauguration. "After that point, his actions will become more important versus what he says," he said.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed about 99 points higher, with Goldman Sachs and IBM contributing the most gains. The blue-chips index briefly turned lower after Trump's remarks on the pharmaceutical industry.
Dow intraday chartSource: FactSet
Investors came into the news conference looking for clues about his proposed policies. Stocks in the U.S. have rallied sharply since Trump's victory, amid hope that the incoming administration will cut corporate taxes, deregulate certain sectors and inject fiscal stimulus into the economy. Trump's news conference concluded without him providing details on these policies.
"We need some concrete numbers. We haven't sold off because there hasn't been a reason to do so. That said, you're dealing with some pretty nervous longs here," said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade.
"Our hope is that these three policies will be enacted and a more pragmatic approach will be taken to trade and immigration," said Jon Adams, senior investment strategist at BMO Global Asset Management. He also said he expects Trump to wait until the after the inauguration to provide more guidance on his policies.
That said, some of the president-elect's tweets have raised concerns among investors. Since Nov. 8, Trump has taken to Twitter to criticize companies that planned to send jobs overseas rather than create them in the United States. He has also threatened to levy a high border tax against those firms.