NEW YORK, New York - All the major U.S. stock indices closed in the black on Wednesday, although the biggest gainer was the Dow Jones index with IBM and Proctor & Gamble leading the way.
With a number of speakers at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, panning President Trump's trade war with China, and the government shutdown, enthusiasm for U.S. stocks was broadly contained.
Now the longest shutdown ever, confidence may well weigh on stocks going forward. The relationship between House Democrats and the president deteriorated further on Wednesday with Mr Trump attempting to press on with his State of the Union address next Tuesday, but being denied by Speaker Nancy Pelosi because of security concerns emanating from the shutdown. Mr Trump earlier in the day had told the Speaker he had received assurances from Homeland Security and the Secret Service that there were no security concerns, however Pelosi wasn't buying that.
Economists fear that if the shutdown persists it will impact the U.S. economy.
"The headlines coming out of Davos are rehashing some of the pessimism," Matthew Keator, partner in the Keator Group, a wealth management firm in Lenox, Massachusetts told the Reuters Thomson news agency Wednesday.
"We are in a more anxious market here, coming off the lows of the fourth quarter," he added. "People's wounds are still fresh."
At the close of trading Wednesday the Dow Jones industrials were ahead 171.14 points or 0.70% at 24,575.60, helped by an 8.5% gain by IBM.
The Standard and Poor's 500 added 5.8 points or 0.22% to 2,638.70.
The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite rose 5.41 points or 0.08% to 7,025.77.
On foreign exchange markets the euro clawed back a few basis points to last trade at 1.1382 in New York on Wednesday.
The main action though was in the British pound which soared to 1.3074.
The Japanese yen edged up to 109.58, while the Swiss franc was a tad firmer at 0.9948.
The Canadian dollar was out of favour at 1.3344.
The Australian dollar inched up to 0.7141, while the New Zealand dollar was holding on to gains made in Asia. It was last quoted at 0.6786 in late treading in New York on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day in Asia, stocks drifted. At the close of trading Wednesday, the Australian All Ordinaries was down 15.60 points or 0.26% at 5,908.70.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 ended 29.19 points or 0.14% lower at 20,593.72.
In China, the key Shanghai Composite was up just 1.30 points or 0.05% at 2,581.00.
In Hong Kong the Hang Seng was ahead 2.75 points or 0.01% at 27,008.19.