US stocks little changed following mixed earnings

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on February 6, 2015, in New York. -- PHOTO: AFP
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on February 6, 2015, in New York. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks finished little changed Wednesday following mixed corporate earnings and a second day of congressional testimony from Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up to a new record, rising 15.38 points (0.08 per cent) to 18,224.57.

The broad-based S&P 500 slipped 1.62 (0.08 per cent) to 2,113.86, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index shed 0.98 (0.02 per cent) at 4,967.14.

TJX, which owns Marshall's, TJ Maxx and other discount apparel and home-goods chains, rose 3.3 per cent after announcing it would raise its dividend and buy back more shares following strong earnings.

But technology giant Hewlett-Packard sank 9.9 per cent after warning of a big drag from the strong dollar as it reported lower earnings.

Markets shrugged off Yellen's second day of testimony, to a House of Representatives panel, after her remarks in the Senate Tuesday had helped lift the Dow and the S&P 500 to record closes.

"Fed chair Janet Yellen sang the same song, but second verse, as she testified to the House today and reiterated rate increases are not imminent," said a note from Wells Fargo Advisers.

McDonald's led the Dow, gaining 3.9 per cent ahead of the March 1 arrival of new chief executive Steve Easterbrook.

Apple lost 2.6 per cent after a Texas jury in a federal case found the tech giant's iTunes system violated patents held by Smartflash. A US judge imposed a US$533 million (S$722 million) award on Apple, which plans to appeal.

Retail giant Target, which sells clothing and a broad slate of goods, added 0.3 per cent after reporting a 3.8 per cent rise in comparable sales in the fourth quarter. The company lost US$2.6 billion during the period due to a US$5.1 billion charge to wind down its Canadian operations.

Some petroleum-linked equities, including Chevron (+0.6 per cent) and Halliburton (+1.3 per cent), rose as oil prices rallied.

But airline stocks dropped as petroleum product prices went higher. United Continental lost 3.1 per cent and American Airlines fell 3.5 per cent.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury fell to 1.96 per cent from 1.98 per cent Tuesday, while the 30-year dipped to 2.57 per cent from 2.59 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.