US markets edge below record highs ahead of second day of testimony by Fed chief Yellen

EnergyAssociated Press

U.S. financial markets eased back from record highs in early trading Wednesday. Investors were monitoring corporate earnings from Lowe's, Target and several other companies. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen was scheduled to deliver another round of testimony before Congress later in the day.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 16 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,192 as of 10:04 a.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dipped two points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,113. The Nasdaq composite was down less than one point at 4,967.

Continue Reading Below

FED FACTOR: The Dow and S&P 500 closed at record highs on Tuesday after investors were encouraged by remarks from Yellen suggesting that the Fed was not in a hurry to raise interest rates. Yellen noted that the job market is still healing and inflation is low. Lower interest rates make borrowing easier and tend to be a plus for financial markets.

BIG DECLINER: Chesapeake Energy slumped 10.7 percent after the natural gas company's fourth-quarter results missed analysts' expectations. The company also said it plans to spend less this year. The stock was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500, sliding $2.11 to $17.77.

MIXED RESULTS: Target reported a loss in its fourth quarter, dragged down by costs to end its money-losing foray in Canada. But the discount retailer recorded strong sales as shoppers bought more clothing and other items over the holiday period. The stock added 9 cents to $77.04.

IMPROVING, TOO: A day after Home Depot posted strong earnings, rival home-improvement retailer Lowe's said its profit and revenue increased in the fourth quarter. Lowe's was down 60 cents to $74.05.

DOLLAR DOES IT: Shares in Discount retailer Dollar Tree rose 2.3 percent after the company reported fiscal fourth-quarter results that surpassed Wall Street's expectations. The stock rose $1.56 to $79.06.

SECTOR VIEW: Six of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 moved lower, with utilities stocks sliding the most. Consumer discretionary stocks led among the gainers.

OVERSEAS MARKETS: In Europe, France's CAC 40 was down 0.4 percent, while Germany's DAX slipped 0.2 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares dipped 0.3 percent from its record closing high on Tuesday. In Asia, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 edged down 0.1 percent, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.3 percent. Hong Kong Hang Seng gained 0.1 percent. South Korea's Kospi added 0.7 percent.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil dipped 9 cents to $49.18 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 17 cents on Tuesday to $49.28.

BONDS: U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged up to 1.99 percent.