Midday Update: Stocks Slightly Lower Ahead of Yellen Congressional Testimony Starting Tomorrow

Stocks have pared some of their early losses, with the most of major market indices posting moderate declines ahead of Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen tomorrow beginning her semi-annual remarks about the U.S. economy and central-bank policy before the House Financial Services Committee. She'll return Thursday for a similar appearance before the Senate Banking Committee.

Utility stocks were outpacing other sectors in the S&P 500 as a result of lower Treasury yields, offsetting weakness for shares of financial companies. The consumer discretionary sector also is lower today, including a nearly 1% drop for McDonalds ( MCD ) after the fast-food restaurant chain reported a 3.3% decline in U.S. sales last month.

But the Nasdaq Composite index is holding on to a modest gain, helped along by a 2% advance for Apple ( AAPL ) shares after activist investor Carl Icahn said he was scrapping his fight over the tech giant's stock buyback program. Shares of Yelp ( YELP ) are getting a lift after the restaurant-review website announced a partnership with Yahoo ( YHOO ) incorporating its listings into YHOO's search engine.

There were no economic reports today.

European equities were mixed at the close today as the reversal in U.S. stocks and weak Italian and French industrial production initiated the defensive tone overseas. The UK's FTSE closed with a respectable gain, but Germany's DAX ended the day fractionally lower.

Crude oil (NMN: CLQ2) was up $0.27 to $100.15 per barrel. Natural gas was down $0.12 to $4.66 per 1 million BTU. Gold was up $12.30 to $1,275.30 an ounce, while silver was up $0.18 to $20.12 an ounce. Copper was down $0.02 to $3.22 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was up 0.42% to $35.79 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was down 3.56% to $22.78. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was up 3.34% to 24.70 while SPDR Gold Shares were up 0.68% to $123.00. The iShares Silver Trust was up 0.47% to $19.36.

Here's where the markets stand at mid-day:

NYSE Composite Index down 24.58 (-0.24%) to 10,030.80

Dow Jones Industrial Average down 17.66 (-0.11%) to 15,776.42

S&P 500 down 0.64 (-0.04%) to 1,796.38

Nasdaq Composite Index up 15.62 (+0.38%) to 4,141.48


Nikkei 225 Index up 1.77%

Hang Seng Index down 0.27%

Shanghai China Composite Index up 2.03%

FTSE 100 Index up 0.30%

CAC 40 up 0.21%

DAX down 0.13%


NYSE Energy Sector Index down 0.59%

NYSE Financial Sector Index down 0.33%

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index up 0.38%


(+) HWG (+27.7%) Settles a class-action lawsuit by offering plaintiffs a larger share of its newly-created company.

(+) YOD (+26.0%) Video service touted as the "Netflix of China" in Seeking Alpha article.

(+) DAVE (+14.2%) Replaced its CEO and expects increase in revenue from prior year.


(-) BWP (-39.1%) Missed earnings estimates by $0.22 per share.

(-) MDCO (-6.1%) FDA analysts decline to endorse the company's blood-clotting drug.

(-) SOHU (-4.2%) Reported below consensus Q4 revenue and guidance

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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