(CNN) — The government is still shut down, and there's been little progress on raising the debt limit. But there was one bit of news from Washington that kept investors from dumping stocks again.
Janet Yellen's nomination as next chair of the Federal Reserve helped stabilize, if not necessarily excite, Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 were flat in morning trading following two days of selling.
Though the broader market was little changed, shares of many momentum stocks sank for a second day and weighed on the Nasdaq. Yahoo, Priceline and Facebook declined more than 2%. Shares of Tesla, Netflix and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters were down more than 4%.
Yellen will be nominated by President Obama at 3 p.m. ET. She has long been a favored candidate for the position and shares much of current chairman Ben Bernanke's thinking on loose monetary policy.
Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets, wrote in his daily note to client that "rates will stay low for longer and policy will be accommodative" if Yellen is approved by the Senate.
An hour before the Yellen announcement, investors will get a look at the minutes of the Federal Reserve's most recent policy meeting. The document will be closely scrutinized for clues about the central bank's plans for its bond-buying program.
Debt anxiety: U.S. stocks fell Tuesday amid continued anxiety over the debt ceiling crisis. The Nasdaq sustained the biggest hit, with major tech stocks taking a dive.
The Dow Jones industrial has dropped more than 350 points since the shutdown of the federal government began on Oct. 1.
Investors are getting more concerned by the day that Washington will not raise the debt ceiling next week. This could lead the government unable to pay all of its bills on time.
The yield on one-month Treasury bills surged to its highest level since the financial crisis Tuesday as investors worry about the country's ability to pay its short-term debts.
Earnings rolling in: Alcoa shares rose after the aluminum producer's profits beat expectations.
Shares of Yum! Brands, meanwhile, tumbled after the operator of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut reported weak earnings and continued problems in its China division.
Costco missed on revenue and reported a slight bump in same store sales. Earnings per shares came in better than expected. The stock was down in early trading.
Retailer Family Dollar beat earnings forecasts, while revenue was roughly in line with estimates. But shares fell on a relatively weak outlook.
Men's Wearhouse shares spiked even though the company's board rejected a $2.4 bid from smaller rival Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, setting the stage for another nasty battle for the men's apparel retailer.
European markets were mixed in afternoon trading, while Asian markets mostly ended with gains. Japan's benchmark Nikkei index popped up by 1%.