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US shares edge higher ahead of Yellen testimony

Traders work the floor of the New York Stock Exchange at the end of the trading day on February 7, 2014
Traders work the floor of the New York Stock Exchange at the end of the trading day on February 7, 2014

US stocks edged higher Monday a day ahead of new Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen's premier testimony to Congress, with attention focused on how she views recent employment weakness.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 7.71 points (0.05 percent) at 15,801.79.

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 2.82 (0.16 percent) to 1,799.84, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite rose 22.31 (0.54 percent) to 4,148.17.

It will be Yellen's first chance to voice her views of the economy after being named chair of the Federal Reserve replacing Ben Bernanke, who stepped down after eight years on January 31.

The Fed's "taper" of its huge easy-money stimulus program could come under review after two straight months of disappointing jobs data, with significant implications for interest rates.

Stocks traded in a narrow range, with Google making the news by surpassing ExxonMobil as the world's second-largest company by market capitalization.

Google (-0.4 percent) was at $393.9 billion while Exxon (-1.2 percent) had a value of $388.1 billion.

Apple (+1.8 percent) remains the largest company, worth $471.9 billion.

Orbitz Worldwide, which owns the Orbitz, Cheaptickets and Ebookers ticket and hotel reservations websites, lost 5.7 percent after announcing a cooperation deal with travel technology provider Amadeus.

Electric sports car maker Tesla surged close to the $200 mark before pulling back to its all-time closing high of $196.56, up 5.4 percent. The gains were helped by Beijing's announcement of higher-than-expected subsidies for electric cars, which should help the overall market for electrics in the country.

UnitedHealth fell 2.3 percent to lead a handful of Dow losers, while McDonald's sank 1.1 percent on sharply lower US sales in January, though the Asian market was strengthening for the giant burger chain.

A strong forecast for 2014 despite flat fourth-quarter revenues boosted toymaker Hasbro 4.5 percent.

Bond prices were mixed. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury rose to 2.68 percent from 2.67 percent Friday, while the 30-year slipped to 3.66 percent from 3.67 percent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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