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US shares edge higher ahead of Yellen testimony

US stocks edged higher on Monday a day ahead of new Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen's premier testimony to Congress, with attention focused on how she views recent employment weakness.

NEW YORK: US stocks edged higher on Monday a day ahead of new Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen's premier testimony to Congress, with attention focused on how she views recent employment weakness.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 7.71 points (0.05 per cent) at 15,801.79.

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 2.82 points (0.16 per cent) to 1,799.84, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite rose 22.31 points (0.54 per cent) to 4,148.17.

It will be Yellen's first chance to voice her views of the economy after being named chair of the Federal Reserve replacing Ben Bernanke, who stepped down after eight years on January 31.

The Fed's "taper" of its huge easy-money stimulus program could come under review after two straight months of disappointing jobs data, with significant implications for interest rates.

Stocks traded in a narrow range, with Google making the news by surpassing ExxonMobil as the world's second-largest company by market capitalisation.

Google (-0.4 per cent) was at $393.9 billion while Exxon (-1.2 per cent) had a value of $388.1 billion.

Apple (+1.8 per cent) remains the largest company, worth $471.9 billion.

Orbitz Worldwide, which owns the Orbitz, Cheaptickets and Ebookers ticket and hotel reservations websites, lost 5.7 per cent after announcing a cooperation deal with travel technology provider Amadeus.

Electric sports car maker Tesla surged close to the $200 mark before pulling back to its all-time closing high of $196.56, up 5.4 per cent. The gains were helped by Beijing's announcement of higher-than-expected subsidies for electric cars, which should help the overall market for electrics in the country.

UnitedHealth fell 2.3 per cent to lead a handful of Dow losers, while McDonald's sank 1.1 per cent on sharply lower US sales in January, though the Asian market was strengthening for the giant burger chain.

A strong forecast for 2014 despite flat fourth-quarter revenues boosted toymaker Hasbro 4.5 per cent.

Bond prices were mixed. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury rose to 2.68 per cent from 2.67 per cent on Friday, while the 30-year slipped to 3.66 per cent from 3.67 per cent.

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