By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little changed on Monday, on the heels of the S&P 500's best two-day performance in four months and ahead of new Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's first testimony before lawmakers on Tuesday.
The benchmark S&P 500 rallied Friday for the index's first weekly gain in the past four, as investors looked past a disappointing payrolls report.
Despite the soft payrolls data, affected partly by frigid weather, the Federal Reserve is largely expected to continue its efforts to scale back its stimulus.
Yellen's first test as chair of the Federal Reserve comes Tuesday when she faces U.S. lawmakers, some hostile to the central bank, who will want to know how committed she is to winding down the Fed's support for the economy.
"Maybe she will indicate a little bit more about the taper, maybe there could be a few hints in there, and I would think if you were a new Chair you would want to at least set a little bit of a tone and maybe make your mark somewhere," said Joe Saluzzi, co-manager of trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey.
"So people will be parsing the words, but I'm expecting nothing out of the ordinary, status quo, steady as she goes."
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 19.92 points or 0.13 percent, to 15,774.16, the S&P 500 lost 0.71 points or 0.04 percent, to 1,796.31 and the Nasdaq Composite added 7.165 points or 0.17 percent, to 4,133.026.
McDonald's Corp reported better-than-expected global sales at established restaurants for January as gains in Europe helped the company offset a sharp decline in the United States. But shares of the world's biggest restaurant chain lost 1 percent to $94.96 as one of the biggest drags on the Dow.
Earnings season has moved into its latter stages, with 54 S&P 500 companies expected to report results this week. Of 344 companies in the benchmark S&P index that have reported earnings through Monday, 68 percent beat Wall Street expectations, Thomson Reuters data showed, against 67 percent over the past four quarters, and ahead of the 63 percent rate since 1994.
Hasbro Inc rose 5.9 percent to $53.03, reversing earlier declines, after the toymaker reported its quarterly results.
CNA Financial Corp said it would sell its life and group insurance business, while parent Loews Corp reported a bigger quarterly loss, hurt by impairment charges. CNA shares gained 5.5 percent to $41.85 while Loews Corp lost 4.6 percent to $43.08 as the worst performer on the S&P 500.
Yelp Inc advanced 4.4 percent to $93.37 after the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that Internet portal Yahoo was partnering with the consumer-reviews website to beef up local results in its search engine.
Apple Inc rose 1.4 percent to $526.70 after Carl Icahn said in a letter to shareholders he sees no reason to persist with his proposal that the iPhone maker buy back $50 billion of its shares.
AutoNavi Holdings Ltd surged 24.5 percent to $20.60 after Alibaba Group disclosed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it had offered to buy all the shares of the Chinese digital mapping and navigation firm it does not already own.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski)
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- Federal Reserve
- Janet Yellen