* S&P 500 coming off best two-day gain in four months
* McDonald's falls after January same-store sales data
* Hasbro rallies after results, upbeat comments
* Indexes up: Dow 0.1 pct, S&P 0.2 pct, Nasdaq 0.5 pct
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Feb 10 U.S. stocks ended with modest
gains on Monday as investors digested recent market gains and
looked ahead to new Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's first
testimony before lawmakers.
The Nasdaq was boosted by strength in large-cap tech and
pharma names, but most market participants took a wait-and-see
attitude ahead of the testimony, looking for confirmation that
the Fed would not change its schedule for ending its support for
The U.S. central bank's accommodative monetary policies have
been credited with fueling the market's steep gains in 2013, and
are expected to keep a floor under equity prices for as long as
The Fed first announced a slowing in the bond-buying program
in December, followed by another one in January. If it changes
the pace of tapering - and uncertainty in emerging markets and
the weak January payrolls have raised the odds of that to some -
it may raise concerns that the economy is still not strong
enough to strengthen on its own.
"We're hoping to hear Yellen strike a balance where she
recognizes that the recovery is fragile, but not so much that
the Fed changes its mind, which would be too premature of a
signal to send," said Leo Grohowski, chief investment officer at
BNY Mellon Wealth Management in New York.
Yellen's prepared remarks will be available before the
market opens on Tuesday. She will also participate in a
question-and-answer session with U.S. lawmakers after the open.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 7.71 points,
or 0.05 percent, at 15,801.79. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was up 2.82 points, or 0.16 percent, at 1,799.84. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was up 22.31 points, or 0.54
percent, at 4,148.17.
The S&P 500 is coming off its best two-day performance in
four months, which capped the index's first weekly gain in the
past four. Those gains were preceded by the index's sharpest
pullback in months.
"Last week investors received a wake-up call that 2014 is
unlikely to be like 2013 in terms of the return or the
smoothness of the ride," said Grohowski, who helps oversee $185
billion in client assets. "We're still digesting last week's
volatility, but investor sentiment is now neutral or negative,
which is a positive for markets."
McDonald's Corp reported a decline in U.S. January
same-store sales, though global sales were above expectations.
Shares fell 1.1 percent to $94.86.
Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc was the top boost to
the Nasdaq 100, jumping 4 percent to $170.11 after
Deutsche Bank raised its price target to $205 from $125.
Hasbro Inc was the S&P's top percentage gainer,
rising 4.5 percent to $52.36. The toymaker reported quarterly
results and gave an upbeat outlook.
With about 69 percent of the S&P 500 having reported, 67.8
percent have topped 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.
After the market closed, voice technology company Nuance
Communications fell 2.3 percent after reporting its
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 gained
6.9 percent to $42.42 while Loews lost 4.2 percent to $43.26 as
the worst performer on the S&P 500.
Yelp Inc advanced 1.9 percent to $91.11. 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. Yahoo rose 1.4
percent to $37.76.
Apple Inc rose 1.8 percent to $528.99 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 24.4 percent to $20.57
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.
About 56 percent of companies traded on both the New York
Stock Exchange and Nasdaq closed higher on the day. About 5.83
billion shares traded on all U.S. platforms, according to BATS