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US STOCKS-Wall St opens little changed; Yellen in focus
December 19, 2016 / 2:47 PM / a year ago

US STOCKS-Wall St opens little changed; Yellen in focus

* Yellen scheduled to speak at 1:30 p.m. ET

* Dow remains less than 1 pct away from 20,000

* Insurer Allied World jumps after $4.9 bln Fairfax deal

* Indexes up: Dow 0.03 pct, S&P 0.03 pct, Nasdaq 0.06 pct (Updates to open)

By Tanya Agrawal

Dec 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks opened little changed on Monday as investors awaited a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, less than a week after the Fed raised interest rates for only the second time since the financial crisis.

Yellen will be speaking on “the State of the Job Market” at 1:30 p.m. ET (1830 GMT) at the University of Baltimore.

U.S. stocks fell on Friday, weighed by a more than 4 percent drop in Oracle shares and news that a Chinese Navy warship seized a U.S. underwater drone.

Still, the Dow posted its sixth straight week of gains, its longest streak in a year. The blue-chip index remains less than 1 percent away from 20,000, a level it has never breached.

U.S. stocks have been on a tear since the Nov. 8 presidential election, with the S&P rising 5.7 percent on bets that President-elect Donald Trump’s expected deregulation and infrastructure spending will boost the economy.

However, there are some concerns that the rally may run out of steam as policy will take time to be implemented and will likely change as it makes its way through Congress.

“Although I believe that the market has run a little ahead of itself, as long as there’s no bad news, this momentum trade can record new tops,” said Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM.

“For the rally to be justifiable in the longer run, we require earning expectations to overshoot, and this is still missing from the equation.”

At 9:35 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial average was up 5.9 points, or 0.03 percent, at 19,849.31.

The S&P 500 was up 0.72 points, or 0.03 percent, at 2,258.79.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 3.47 points, or 0.06 percent, at 5,440.63.

Seven of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the utilities index’s 0.49 percent rise leading the gainers.

Lennar rose 2.1 percent to $44.30 after the second-largest U.S. homebuilder’s quarterly profit topped analysts’ estimates.

Walt Disney was up 1.4 percent at $105.40 after the company’s first stand-alone Star Wars film, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” collected an estimated $155 million in the United States and Canada over the weekend.

Allied World Assurance jumped 13.4 percent to $51.72 after insurance group Fairfax Financial Holdings agreed to buy the Swiss insurer for $4.9 billion.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,618 to 983. On the Nasdaq, 1,329 issues rose and 953 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed one new 52-week high and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 32 new highs and six new lows. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D‘Silva)

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