Wall Street edges up ahead of Fed chair Yellen's Day-2 testimony

The Wall Street bull is seen in the financial district in New York, US on March 7, 2017.
The Wall Street bull is seen in the financial district in New York, US on March 7, 2017.REUTERS/BRENDAN MCDERMID

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US stocks were slightly higher in early trading on Thursday (July 13), ahead of Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's second day of testimony and a day after she signaled a dovish stance on interest rates.

Ms Yellen's comments were part of her two-day semi-annual monetary policy testimony before Congress. She will resume her testimony at 10 a.m. ET (10:00 p.m. Singapore time).

Investor cheered Ms Yellen's view of gradual increase in rates on Wednesday, with world shares hitting their fourth all-time high in less than a month on Thursday.

The Dow rose to a record high close while US stocks kept their upward momentum on Wednesday following Yellen's comments.

The US economy is healthy enough for the Fed to raise rates and begin winding down its massive bond portfolio, though low inflation and a low neutral rate may leave the central bank with diminished leeway, Ms Yellen said.

The US economy grew at a "slight to moderate" pace over the last several weeks across all regions of the country, with wage pressures reported for both low- and high-skilled jobs, the Federal Reserve reported on Wednesday in its latest compendium of regional economic activity. "Her speech was labeled as dovish due to no signs of any aggressive rate hikes or having a firm plan in relation to scaling down their balance sheet," said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Think Markets UK.

At 9:38 a.m. ET (9:38 p.m. Singapore time), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 20.67 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 21,552.81, the S&P 500 was up 3.25 points, or 0.13 per cent, at 2,446.50. The Nasdaq Composite was up 9.88 points, or 0.16 per cent, at 6,271.05.

Six of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were higher, with the technology index's 0.33 per cent rise leading the advancers.

Data showed US producer prices unexpectedly rose in June as sustained increases in the cost of services offset declining energy prices, suggesting a recent moderation in inflation was likely temporary.

In the 12 months through June the producer level inflation, or PPI, increased 2.0 percent, above the 1.9 per cent rise expected.

Data from the US Labor Department showed jobless claims falling last week for the first time in a month. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped to 247,000 for the week ended July 8, from 248,000.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,388 to 1,101. On the Nasdaq, 1,146 issues fell and 1,069 advanced.