By Sruthi Shankar and Tanya Agrawal
(Reuters) – Wall Street recouped losses in early afternoon trading on Friday following a New York Times report that President Donald Trump has decided to remove chief strategist Steve Bannon.
Bannon is known as an economic nationalist and an advocate of “America First” policies. However, critics have accused him of harboring anti-Semitic and white nationalist sentiments.
A decision from White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is imminent on whether chief strategist Bannon will keep his job, news website Axios had reported earlier in the day.
President Donald Trump has alienated corporate leaders and U.S. allies, while rattling markets with his comments since Saturday’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, that came in the aftermath of a white nationalist protest against the removal of a Confederate statue.
All three major indexes are on track to post their worst monthly performance since October, a month before Trump’s election as president.
“I think it was the rumor of Steve Bannon getting fired,” said Peter Costa, president of Empire Executions.
“There’s a lot of hopeful people thinking that, ‘you know what, he has been a divisive figure in the White House … Getting rid of him might be a good deal for the president.'”
Trump’s campaign promises of tax cuts and higher infrastructure spending had helped the market rally, with the S&P climbing about 14 percent since election. However, investors are getting increasingly worried about Trump’s ability to implement his pro-growth agenda.
At 12:40 p.m. ET (1640 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> was up 6.04 points, or 0.03 percent, at 21,756.77 and the S&P 500 <.SPX> was up 5.91 points, or 0.24 percent, at 2,435.92. The Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> was up 23.49 points, or 0.38 percent, at 6,245.41.
Five of the 11 major S&P indexes were higher, with the energy sector’s <.SPNY> 0.93 percent rise leading the advancers.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,464 to 1,288. On the Nasdaq, 1,480 issues rose and 1,257 fell.
(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)