US STOCKS-Wall St to open slightly higher; Yellen testimony due

Tue Feb 11, 2014 9:15am EST

* Yellen, new Fed chair, takes hot seat at Capitol

* Yellen says labor market recovery far from complete

* CVS climbs after results

* Futures up: S&P 1.75 pts; Dow 26 pts; Nasdaq 8.5 pts

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Feb 11 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set for a slightly higher open on Tuesday after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen reinforced the Fed's plan to scale back its market-friendly stimulus while noting the health of the labor market needed to improve.

In her first public comments as Fed chief, Yellen, giving a balanced testimony to a House committee, acknowledged recent volatility in global financial markets but said it did "not pose a substantial risk to the U.S. economic outlook," and that she strongly supported the policy approach of her predecessor, Ben Bernanke.

"Obviously it's all about Yellen today," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York.

"We are setting ourselves up for what could be a volatile session if there are any negative surprises, by that I mean if she is not as dovish as the market may be expecting."

S&P 500 e-mini futures rose 1.75 points and were slightly above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 26 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 8.5 points.

The central bank has cut its monthly bond-buying program by $10 billion at each of its last two meetings, reducing the total amount of purchases to $65 billion.

Sprint Corp, the No. 3 U.S. mobile provider, reported an increase in quarterly revenue that was ahead of analysts' expectations and said it added wireless subscribers in the fourth quarter. The stock was up 7.2 percent to $8.24 in premarket trading.

CVS Caremark Corp posted higher quarterly profit as it processed more prescriptions and benefited from the introduction of new generic drugs. The stock rose 1.9 percent to $68.24 in premarket trading.

Of 345 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings through Monday morning, 67.8 percent have beaten profit expectations, above the long-term average of 63 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data. Almost 66 percent have topped revenue forecasts, above the historical average of 61 percent.

Conagra Foods lost 5.8 percent to $29.25 before the opening bell after the maker of Chef Boyardee pastas and Slim Jim beef jerky cut its full-year profit outlook, citing weaker profits in its private label business and lower sales of certain key brands in its consumer foods division.

Infloblox Inc plunged 42.8 percent to $18.97 in premarket trading after the network equipment maker estimated second-quarter revenue below analysts' average forecast.

Cadence Pharmaceuticals Inc surged 26.4 percent to $13.99 in premarket trading after the company agreed to be acquired by specialty pharmaceuticals company Mallinckrodt Plc said for about $1.3 billion.