The Dow Jones industrial average eked out a small gain Wednesday after a mostly down day for the markets. Investors took stock of new corporate earnings and the what Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen told the Senate about the U.S. economy.
At the close on Wall Street, the Dow was up 5.3 points, about 0.03 percent, 17,060.7. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down 3.8 points, or nearly 0.2 percent, at 1,973.3, and the Nasdaq composite slid 24 points, or about 0.5 percent, to 4,416.4.
In remarks to to the Senate Banking Committee, Fed chairwoman Janet Yellen raised the possibility that the Fed could raise its key short-term interest rate sooner than currently projected. However, she emphasized that the Fed intends to keep providing significant support to the U.S. economy to boost growth and improve labor market conditions, noting that the economic recovery is not yet complete.
BANKS REPORT: JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs rose after the banks reported results that were better than investors were expecting. JPMorgan, the nation's largest bank by assets, said its second-quarter earnings fell 9 percent as revenue at its investment banking and mortgage businesses dropped. JPMorgan Chase closed up $1.98, about 3.52 percent at $58.27. Goldman Sachs added $2.17, about 1.3 percent, to close at $169.17.
BUYING A RIVAL: Cigarette maker Reynolds American Inc. said Tuesday it plans to buy rival Lorillard for about $25 billion in a deal to combine two of the nation's oldest and biggest tobacco companies. Reynolds closed down $4.34, about 6.9 percent, at $58.84. Likewise Lorillard shares sank $7.05, about 10.5 percent, to $60.17.
SPENDING BAROMETER: The Commerce Department reported Tuesday that retail sales rose just 0.2 percent last month, held back by a sharp drop at building materials and garden supply stores. Sales also fell at restaurants and at auto dealers. The latest figures suggest that Americans are reluctant to spend freely, which could slow growth in the April-June quarter.