S&P, Nasdaq Higher as Investors Digest Yellen Remarks

Wall Street Reuters

The S&P and the Nasdaq were slightly higher in late morning trading on Thursday as investors assessed remarks by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen at a congressional testimony.

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The Dow, which snapped its seven-day rally on Wednesday, was little changed, weighed down by a fall in Wal-Mart <WMT.N>.

Shares of the world's largest retailer fell 4.4 percent after reporting lower-than-expected quarterly comparable sales.

Yellen said the central bank could raise interest rates "relatively soon" and was prepared to adjust its outlook as the new administration takes shape.

U.S. stocks had been on a tear since Trump's surprise victory last week, with the Dow closing at a record level four days in a row.

The rally lost steam this week as investors seek clarity on Trump's campaign promises and brace for higher interest rates.

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Trump's proposals to cut taxes and raise infrastructure spending are expected to boost economic activity and inflation, raising the possibility of more interest rate hikes. That sent the dollar index <.DXY> to a near 14-year high.

Traders are pricing in an 83 percent chance of a December move, according to Thomson Reuters data.

"A December rate hike is priced in. A number of Fed speakers have indicated that and they want the market to be prepared for when they do," said Erik Wytenus, global investment specialist at J.P. Morgan Private Bank.

"The Fed though is sensitive to the strength of the dollar and they don't want to hike too far too quickly."

At 11:03 a.m. ET the Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was down 17.19 points, or 0.09 percent, at 18,850.95.

The S&P 500 <.SPX> was up 3.93 points, or 0.18 percent, at 2,180.87.

The Nasdaq Composite index <.IXIC> was up 13.10 points, or 0.25 percent, at 5,307.69.

Eight of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were higher, with the financial index's <.SPSY> 0.75 percent rise leading the advancers.

JPMorgan <JPM.N> and Bank of America <BAC.N> were up about 1 percent, boosting the sector.

U.S. consumer prices recorded their biggest increase in six months in October, data showed. The Consumer Price Index increased 0.4 percent last month after rising 0.3 percent in September.

In other data, U.S. housing starts surged to a more than nine-year high in October and the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell to a 43-year low last week.

Cisco <CSCO.O> fell 5.3 percent to $29.90 after its current-quarter forecast fell below analysts' estimates.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,590 to 1,236. On the Nasdaq, 1,613 issues rose and 1,015 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed 19 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 180 new highs and 13 new lows.

 

(Reporting by Tanya Agrawal and Anya George Tharakan; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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