* Yahoo's stock jumps to highest intraday level since May
* Bank of America shares climb after earnings
* American Express shares extend drop after the bell on
* Intel and eBay shares slip, but IBM up in after-hours
* Dow up 0.1 pct, S&P 500 up 0.3 pct, Nasdaq up 0.3 pct
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, July 17 U.S. stocks ended modestly
higher on Wednesday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke
said the timeline for winding down the U.S. central bank's
stimulus program was not set in stone.
Shares of Bank of America and Yahoo rose
after the companies reported quarterly results. Both ranked
among the names giving the biggest boost to the S&P 500.
The three major U.S. stock indexes bounced back from
Tuesday's lower close, which broke the S&P 500's eight-day
string of gains.
Bernanke said the U.S. central bank still expects to start
scaling back its massive bond-buying program later this year,
but he said the timeline depended on the economic outlook.
He made the comments on Wednesday before the
House Financial Services Committee as part of his twice-yearly
report to Congress on monetary policy. On Thursday, he will
appear before the Senate Banking Committee.
"He's still being quite vague in describing exactly what to
expect next, and I think that serves his purposes. He's trying
to minimize the impact of policy change on the markets," said
Lawrence Creatura, portfolio manager at Federated Investors in
Rochester, New York.
Bernanke's comments on May 22 triggered a drop of nearly 6
percent in the S&P 500 in the month that followed. But remarks
from Bernanke and other Fed officials since then have calmed the
market and erased those declines. The S&P 500 is just several
points away from the all-time intraday high of 1,687.18 it
reached on May 22. For the year, the S&P 500 is up 17.9 percent.
Yahoo shares shot up 10.3 percent to close at $29.66.
Earlier, Yahoo hit an intraday high at $29.73, its highest level
since May 2008. Instead of Yahoo's bottom-line results,
investors focused more on news of its stake in the fast-growing
Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba and its product
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 18.67 points,
or 0.12 percent, to end at 15,470.52. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index gained 4.65 points, or 0.28 percent, to finish at
1,680.91. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 11.50
points, or 0.32 percent, to close at 3,610.00.
Bank of America shares gained 2.8 percent to $14.31, while
BNY Mellon Corp shares rose 1.9 percent at $30.92. Both
led the financial sector higher after the banks reported
stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings.
The S&P financial sector index
advanced 0.5 percent.
"One reason investors might be encouraged by earnings is
that management teams have done a great job of setting
expectations, and right now, the bar is set at ankle height,"
Creatura said. "So it should be reasonably easy for companies to
beat expectations this quarter, and that could be a positive
catalyst for markets."
Analysts expect S&P 500 companies' second-quarter earnings
to have grown 3.3 percent from a year earlier, with revenue up
1.2 percent, Thomson Reuters data showed.
On the flip side, shares of American Express fell
1.9 percent to $76.80 after the European Commission said it
would propose limits on fees that banks can charge to process
debit-card and credit-card transactions. During
the regular session, American Express was the Dow's biggest
After the bell, American Express shares slid 1 percent to
$76 after the company reported results.
In other trading after the bell, shares of Intel
fell 3.3 percent to $23.35 after the world's biggest chipmaker
cut its full-year revenue forecast and said it is scaling back
Shares of eBay dropped 6.2 percent to $53.80 in
extended-hours trading after the e-commerce company reported
solid second-quarter results, but warned of "headwinds" in the
second half of the year from Europe and Korea.
In contrast, shares of IBM rose almost 3 percent in
extended-hours trading after IBM raised its full-year earnings
forecast and reported second-quarterly earnings that beat
estimates. During the regular session, IBM's stock rose 0.4
percent to end at $194.55.
During the regular session, shares of DuPont jumped
5.3 percent to $57.25 after Trian Fund Management's Nelson Peltz
said he has amassed a "big stake" in the chemicals maker. The
stock was the Dow's top percentage gainer.
Part of the day's upbeat tone came from the Federal
Reserve's Beige Book, which said the U.S. economy continued to
grow at a modest to moderate pace in June and early July, with
manufacturing expanding in most areas of the country.
Volume was roughly 5.7 billion shares traded on the New York
Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the NYSE MKT, below the average
daily closing volume of about 6.4 billion this year. On Monday,
volume hit its lowest for any full trading day this year.
Advancers outpaced decliners on the NYSE by a ratio of
nearly 2 to 1 in Wednesday's session. On the Nasdaq, about three
stocks rose for every two that fell.