US stocks close near highs ahead of Yellen testimony

24.02.2015 00:47
Evelyn Cheng |
U.S. stocks pulled back from Friday’s records to close narrowly mixed on Monday ahead of Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s remarks over the next two days.
“You had a nice run up last week,” said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial. “It’s not unusual for the market to consolidate a little and you have (a big Fed speaker tomorrow).”
The Nasdaq closed in the green as Apple closed at $133 a share, another all-time high. The iPhone maker said Monday it will spend $1.9 billion to build two new European data centers, one in Ireland, the other in Denmark.
Boeing weighed on the Dow Jones industrial average to close down more than 2 percent after Goldman Sachs downgraded the airplane manufacturer to “sell” from “neutral,” saying the firm is the most exposed in the industry to aircraft demand risk.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testifies before both houses of Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Read MoreJanet Yellen’s got some explaining to do
“I think people are looking past Greece to Yellen tomorrow and Wednesday,” said Marc Chandler of Brown Brothers Harriman.
Although many interpreted last week’s Fed minutes as dovish, he said that Yellen will likely remind markets that a June rate hike is still on the table.
Greece was expected to present reform proposals on Monday, but a Greek government official told Reuters that the country will submit the list of its reforms to the Eurogroup on Tuesday morning. The list will include reforms to fight tax evasion and corruption, measures to reform the public sector and cut bureaucracy, the official said.
“I don’t read too much into it minute by minute,” said Michelle Gibley, director of international research at Charles Schwab. “Greece’s impact on the market has ebbed.”
The Eurogroup of regional finance ministers gave the country’s bailout program a four-month extension on Friday and requested that Greece submit a list of reforms on Monday.
Energy and financials were among the greatest decliners in the S&P 500. Crude oil settled below $50 a barrel, while brent fell to dip below $59 a barrel.Oil spiked briefly on news that the recent declines could trigger an OPEC emergency meeting.
Oil “is not going to spook the market” unless it falls suddenly to $46, said JJ Kinahan, chief derivatives strategist at TD Ameritrade.
With an interest rate hike, the financials sector would have greater profit margins.
On Friday, U.S. stocks rallied to close at record highs after the resolution between Greece and the euro zone. The Dow Jones industrial average closed up more than 150 points, its first record close for 2015.
The S&P 500 ended last week at its third record close for the year. The Nasdaq also closed higher, within 50 points of the key 5,000 level.

“Even though we’re at all time highs the S&P 500 is only up 2.5 percent this year,” said Nick Raich, CEO of The Earnings Scout.”We’re advising caution at this point. Not a lot (of caution) because of central bank support.”

In economic news, existing home sales dropped 4.9 percent in January, their lowest level in nine months.

“Bottom line, as seen in weekly mortgage applications that cannot gain any sustainable traction, the housing recovery remains very uneven with all cash buyers close to exceeding the first time buyer in the percentage contribution to overall purchases, an historical anomaly,” Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group, said in a note.

The U.S. 10-year Treasury yield edged lower to trade near 2.06 percent. The U.S. dollar traded flat against major world currencies.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
DJIA Dow Jones Industrial Average 18116.84
 
-23.60 -0.13%
S&P 500 S&P 500 Index 2109.66
 
-0.64 -0.03%
NASDAQ Nasdaq Composite Index 4960.97
 
5.01 0.10%

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 23.6 points, or 0.13 percent, at 18,116.84, with Boeing the greatest laggard and UnitedHealth leading 12 blue chips higher.

The S&P 500 closed down 0.64 points, or 0.03 percent, to 2,109.66, with telecommunications leading decliners and utilities the greatest of four sector advancers.

The Nasdaq closed up 5.01 points, or 0.10 percent, to 4,960.97.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, traded near 15.

Read MorePrepare for massive S&P drop: Technician Worth

Decliners were slightly ahead of advancers on the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of 707 million and a composite volume of about 3 billion in the close.

High-frequency trading accounted for 47.5 percent of February’s average daily trading volume of approximately 7 billion shares, according to TABB Group. During the peak levels of high-frequency trading in 2009, about 61 percent of 9.8 billion of average daily shares traded, were executed by high-frequency traders.

Crude oil futures settled down $1.36 at $49.45 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold futures settled down $4.10 to $1,200.80 an ounce.

Major earnings reporting after the bell on Monday include Agrium, Express Scripts and Tenet Healthcare.

In Europe, HSBC addressed its tax evasion allegations at its Swiss operations as it reported lower-than-expected profits for 2014.

“We deeply regret and apologize for conduct and compliance failures,” the bank said in a statement. Shares traded over 5 percent lower in London after the results.

Google won dismissal of a lawsuit that had accused it of forcing Android phone makers to designate Google offerings as the default applications.

Dish Network founder and chairman Charlie Ergen will return to take charge of the firm after the current CEO, Joe Clayton, retires on March 31, the company said in a press release on Monday.

Read MoreEarly movers: GS, AAPL, DG, DISH, HMC & more

In an SEC filing, Goldman Sachs revealed it had received a letter from the U.S. attorney concluding that Goldman had violated federal law in connection with the underwriting and sales of residential mortgage backed securities. Goldman said “reasonably possible” legal costs could be $3 billion more than it currently has reserved.

Reuters and CNBC’s Peter Schacknow contributed to this report.

On tap this week:
Monday
Earnings: Agrium, Express Scripts, Tenet Healthcare, Texas Roadhouse
Tuesday
Earnings: Comcast, Home Depot, AmericanTower, Bank of Montreal, Macy’s, Toll Brothers, Cracker Barrel, Domino’s Pizza,Hewlett-Packard, Boston Beer, Dreamworks Animation, First Solar, Papa John’s(tentative), WebMD Health
9:00 a.m.: S&P Case-Shiller HPI
10:00 a.m.: Consumer Confidence
10:00 a.m.: Janet Yellen speaks
10:00 a.m.: Richmond Fed manufacturing index
1:00 p.m.: Two-year note auction
Wednesday
Earnings: Lowe’s, Campbell Soup, ChesapeakeEnergy, Dollar Tree, Target, TJX, SodaStream, L Brands, Liberty Media,Salesforce.com, Transocean, Workday
7:00 a.m.: Mortgage Applications
10:00 a.m.: New Home Sales
10:00 a.m.: Janet Yellen speaks
10:30 a.m.: Oil inventories
1:00 p.m.: Five-year note auction




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