(Reuters) – U.S. stocks held near the unchanged mark on Wednesday, as investors looked for clues to the timing of an interest rate hike during a second day of testimony from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
The Fed chair’s prepared testimony to a House of Representatives’ committee on Wednesday was identical to remarks she delivered a day earlier to a Senate panel and a question and answer session was under way.
“What people are really hinging on is any noises that are coming out of the Fed, most notably Janet Yellen,” said Keith Bliss, senior vice-president at Cuttone & Co in New York.
“I would term what she did yesterday as somewhat ‘jawbone therapy’ where she knows the market is listening to every word and she is being just noncommittal enough.”
Housing data was upbeat, as single-family home sales in January fell less than expected and supply rose to its highest level since 2010.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 4.24 points, or 0.02 percent, to 18,204.95, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 1.69 points, or 0.08 percent, to 2,113.79 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 1.92 points, or 0.04 percent, to 4,970.04.
Target (TGT.N) reported a stronger-than-expected jump in same-store sales and profits for the key fourth quarter, and forecast modest earnings growth in the current quarter. Shares in the retailer dipped 0.9 percent to $76.27.
Hewlett-Packard (HPQ.N) shares tumbled 10.1 percent to $34.66 as the worst performer on the S&P 500 after the world’s No. 2 PC maker reported flat or lower quarterly revenue in all of its operating units and forecast full-year earnings well below analysts’ expectations.
Lowe’ Cos (LOW.N) reported same-store sales well above analysts’ estimates and forecast full-year sales above expectations, but shares of the home improvement retailer slipped 0.2 percent to $74.48.
As earnings season winds down, Thomson Reuters data through Wednesday morning showed that of the 465 companies in the S&P 500 that have posted earnings, 69 percent have topped expectations, matching the beat rate for the last four quarters but above the 63 percent rate since 1994.