US STOCKS-S&P 500 gains, boosted by Macy's strong results

Wed Nov 13, 2013 2:52pm EST

* Macy's sales rise more than expected; shares up over 9 pct

* Investors await Fed nominee Yellen's hearing

* Indexes up: Dow 0.1 pct; S&P 500 0.4 pct; Nasdaq 0.7 pct

By Luke Swiderski

NEW YORK, Nov 13 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rebounded from earlier losses on Wednesday, led by gains in Macy's after the department store's earnings helped lift the S&P 500 briefly to a new intraday high.

Macy's Inc stock shot up 9.5 percent to $50.75, after touching a 52-week high of $50.95, and driving the S&P Consumer Discretionary Sector Index up 1.2 percent. The company said promotions increased sales and business was improving ahead of the crucial holiday season.

"You've had weak confidence data points over the past couple of weeks. So having a bellwether like Macy's, which was talking rather cautiously a couple months ago, now talking positively, that may be helping," said Gary Flam, portfolio manager at Bel Air Investment Advisors in Los Angeles.

Markets also moved up on talk that introductory remarks by Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen to the Senate Banking Committee will be released after the day's close. Yellen makes her first appearance on Thursday before the committee considering her nomination to succeed current Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.

"I think Yellen's presentation is the one everyone is anticipating ... This will be our first chance to see her do some Q&A," said Brian Battle, director of trading at Performance Trust Capital in Chicago.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 16.86 points, or 0.11 percent, at 15,767.53. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 6.76 points, or 0.38 percent, at 1,774.45. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 26.52 points, or 0.68 percent, at 3,946.43.

Home Depot Inc gained 1.8 percent to $77.55 and bolstered the Dow industrials.

The S&P 500 also found support from technology stocks, with Internet software companies gaining 0.6 percent and systems software companies gaining 0.4 percent.

In addition to Yellen's testimony on Thursday, investors are awaiting a speech from Bernanke, who is scheduled to speak at 7 p.m. on Wednesday (midnight GMT), though the topic is not specific to monetary policy. A question-and-answer session will follow.

As earnings reporting season winds down and in a light week for economic figures, investors were reluctant to make big bets after what has been a strong year. So far in 2013, the S&P 500 has climbed 23.8 percent and the Dow has gained 19.8 percent.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the largest U.S. retailer and an important bellwether, is set to report earnings on Thursday. Shares edged down 0.1 percent to $78.66.

Among Nasdaq stocks, Potbelly Corp shares jumped 12 percent to $30.29 a day after the sandwich chain reported results that beat Wall Street expectations.

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