U.S. stocks posted muted gains, with financials giving the S&P 500 a bump a day ahead of earnings reports from several big U.S. banks. Alicia Powell reports.
Financials boosted Wall Street as investors shifted their focus to second-quarter earnings. The season will kick off on Friday, with big banks, such as JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup, reporting results. Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial: (SOUNDBITE) PETER CARDILLO, CHIEF MARKET ECONOMIST, FIRST STANDARD FINANCIAL, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I do expect some earnings to be on the soft side. That's due to cost factors. Believe or not, for some major corporations' wages have crept up, and that should take a little bit of a bite out of corporate earnings." Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen wrapped up her two-day testimony before Congress. She said the U.S. economy is healthy enough to raise rates and begin winding down its massive bond portfolio. But she added that, if inflation stays low, the central bank will be less aggressive with its plan. In economic news, U.S. producer prices unexpectedly rose in June. Another set of data showed weekly jobless claims fell last week for the first time in a month. On the trading floor, Target rose after the company gave an upbeat second-quarter forecast. That boosted other retailers, like Wal-Mart and Costco. Delta fell on a drop in second-quarter profit. In Europe, stocks closed the day in the green.