Investors await Yellen testimony
A rebound in oil helps lift energy stocks, while bank and phone stocks fall.
Another day of listless trading on Wall Street ended Tuesday with the major stock indexes closing out having shifted marginally from the day before.
Gains in energy and technology companies were canceled out by losses among banks, phone companies and other sectors.
A rebound in crude oil prices helped lift energy stocks, which led the gainers. Banks posted the largest losses.
Investors were making modest moves ahead of Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen’s testimony before Congress on Wednesday and Thursday, and the release of the Fed’s Beige Book, an economic snapshot used by the central bank to gauge U.S. economic trends.
The market will key in on both as it tries to discern how Fed policy on interest rates may play out this year and next, said Sameer Samana, global quantitative strategist for the Wells Fargo Investment Institute.
“Any time you have those types of potentially market-moving events, especially with policy being such a big focus right now, people are always a little hesitant” to make big market moves, Samana said.
Beyond the Fed, investors were also looking ahead to the next cor- porate earnings reporting season, which ramps up this week.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 1.90 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,425.53. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.55 points to 21,409.07. The Nasdaq composite rose 16.91 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,193.30. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 4.58 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,413.05.Nine of the 11 industry groups in the S&P’s 500 index declined. More stocks rose than fell on the New York Stock Exchange.
Energy sector companies led the gainers Tuesday. Devon Energy rose 80 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $30.53. Newfield Exploration added 47 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $26.83.
The price of oil rebounded after dipping earlier in the day. Benchmark U.S. crude picked up 64 cents, or 1.4 percent, to settle at $45.04 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 64 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $47.52 a barrel in London.