U.S. equities closed off their session lows on Friday after Steve Bannon, one of President Donald Trump's top advisors, left the administration.
The S&P 500 closed 0.18 percent lower at 2,425.55 , after falling as much as 0.5 percent. NBC News confirmed earlier reports that Bannon had left Trump's team. A report from Axios hinting at Bannon's departure sparked a turn higher in stocks earlier in the session, with the S&P rising as much as 0.4 percent.
Traders at the New York Stock Exchange literally cheered the news that Bannon was out of the administration.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed 76.22 points lower at 21,674.51; it jumped about 130 points off its earlier lows on Bannon's exit. The Nasdaq composite slipped 0.09 percent to close at 6,216.53.
Tension between Bannon and other top advisors to Trump, including Chief Economic Advisor Gary Cohn and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, had been festering inside the White House. On Wednesday, Reuters reported that discord between Bannon and McMaster is destabilizing Trump's team.
The report is "helping because if Bannon is gone it makes it less likely Cohn leaves because they've been battling behind scenes since the inauguration," said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at Lindsey Group.
Bannon was the advisor pushing the hardest for a more nationalistic approach to U.S. economic policy. However, his influence has reportedly waned in the Trump administration.
In an interview with left-leaning publication The American Prospect, Bannon said the U.S. is already in an "economic war" with China. "It's in all their literature. They're not shy about saying what they're doing. One of us is going to be a hegemon in 25 or 30 years and it's gonna be them if we go down this path."
If Bannon leaves "I think that's positive for the market because it means that Gary Cohn is staying and if Cohn and McMaster are the ones left advising the president, that's ultimately market friendly," said Dave Lutz, head of ETF trading at JonesTrading.
Equities began the session trading lower on growing concerns that President Donald Trump would not be able to move forward with his pro-growth economic agenda.