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US STOCKS-Wall St edges up ahead of Yellen's Day-2 testimony
July 13, 2017 / 1:53 PM / in 4 months

US STOCKS-Wall St edges up ahead of Yellen's Day-2 testimony

* Weekly jobless claims falls first time in a month

* June PPI comes in above expectation

* Target rises as higher quarterly sales forecast

* Indexes higher: Dow 0.10 pct, S&P 0.13 pct, Nasdaq 0.16 pct (Updates to open)

By Ankur Banerjee and Tanya Agrawal

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

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 (1400 GMT).

Investor cheered 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 U.S. stocks kept their upward momentum on Wednesday following Yellen’s comments.

The U.S. 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, Yellen said.

The U.S. 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 (1338 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 20.67 points, or 0.1 percent, at 21,552.81, the S&P 500 was up 3.25 points, or 0.13 percent, at 2,446.50.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 9.88 points, or 0.16 percent, at 6,271.05.

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

Data showed U.S. 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 percent rise expected.

Data from the U.S. 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.

On the stocks, Delta shares were down 2.3 percent, after the No.2 U.S. airline’s quarterly profit missed analysts’ expectations.

Target rose 3.8 percent after the retailer said it expects a “modest” increase in second-quarter comparable sales, the first rise in five quarters.

Yandex jumped 16.5 percent after the company and Uber agreed to combine their Russian ride-sharing businesses.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,388 to 1,101. On the Nasdaq, 1,146 issues fell and 1,069 advanced. (Reporting by Ankur Banerjee and Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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