U.S. Equities End Little Changed After Yellen Signals March Hike

U.S. stocks were little changed Friday as investors assessed Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen’s intention to hike rates at the central bank’s March meeting.

The S&P 500 Index ended less than 0.1 percent higher at 2,383.12 at 4 p.m. in New York, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 3 points to 21,005.71.

  • Five of 11 groups ended higher with financials and health care leading gains with 0.4% advances
  • Real estate, utilities and staples fell at least 0.3% as the 10-year Treasury yield climbed a fifth day to 2.478%
  • Fed funds futures show a 94% chance the Fed will raise rates this month, versus 40% at the end of last week
  • The earnings season is drawing to a close, with about 73% of S&P 500 members beating profit estimates and a little over half exceeding sales forecasts, according to data compiled by Bloomberg
    • Yellen capped a week of rising expectations about an imminent interest-rate increase by explicitly supporting a hike in mid-March if U.S. economic progress persists
    • Markit February PMI falls to 54.1 from 55.8 in Jan.; Year ago 50
    • Next S&P 500 companies reporting Tuesday March 7: Dicks Sporting Goods (DKS), Editas Medicine (EDTS)
  • In Europe, stocks closed little changed, paring earlier losses, as banks rallied and French shares climbed after polls showed anti-euro candidate Marine Le Pen lagging rival Emmanuel Macron for the first time

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