US stocks open with small gains as investors assess earnings, Yellen comments

Energy Associated Press

U.S. stocks made slight gains in early trading as investors assessed earnings news and digested comments from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. Energy stocks fell with the price of oil as traders judged that Iran's nuclear accord would lead to more oil on global markets.

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KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose one point, or 0.1 percent, to 2,110, as of 10:12 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones industrial average rose one point, or less than 0.1 percent, to 18,055. The Nasdaq composite climbed 14 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,119.

BANK EARNINGS: Bank of America gained 46 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $17.60 after the lender said its profits more than doubled in the second quarter thanks to lower legal bills. The bank also said an increase in deposits, lower expenses and an improving balance sheet helped offset a decline in revenue. The earnings were better than analysts had forecast.

CHINA DATA: China's economy expanded 7 percent in the April-June quarter, the slowest quarterly pace since the 2008 financial crisis but slightly above forecasts, suggesting stimulus measures are taking hold. Retail sales expanded in June at a slightly faster rate than May while factory output also improved from the previous month. The data came as the ruling Communist Party is struggling to reverse a stock market plunge that began early June and threatens to disrupt its economic reform plans.

ASIA'S DAY: China's Shanghai Composite Index fell 3 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.3 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.4 percent.

GREECE BAILOUT: Greece's parliament is set to vote on austerity measures later Wednesday. The country could again roil markets after the International Monetary Fund, one of the country's creditors, criticized the terms of the recent bailout. The IMF says that Greece's debt can only be made more sustainable through more expansive debt-relief measure than Europe is currently offering.

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YELLEN SPEAKS: Yellen said in prepared remarks to Congress that she sees a number of encouraging signs that the economy is reviving after a harsh winter. She said that if the improvements stay on track, policymakers will likely start raising interest rates later this year. The Fed's benchmark rate has been at a record low near zero since December 2008, pushing up both bond and stock prices.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 84 cents to $52.18 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 123.96 yen from 123.35 yen. The euro was down slightly to $1.0952 from $1.1010. Bond prices were little changed from Tuesday. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was 2.40 percent.