Wall Street mixed ahead of Fed talk

Recent rally fizzles out prior to testimony from Fed chief Janet Yellen.

United States stocks are mixed in late afternoon trade after scoring their strongest week of the year, with investors keenly awaiting new Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen's first testimony to Congress.

At 0630 AEDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was off 6.35 points, or 0.04%, to 15,787.73.

The broad-based S&P 500 edged up 1.74 points, or 0.10%, to 1,798.76, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index rose 19.21 points, or 0.47%, to 4,145.07.

Ms Yellen, who succeeded Ben Bernanke as Fed chair on February 1, presents the Fed's semi-annual view of the economy and monetary policy to lawmakers in two hearings this week, starting with a hearing on Tuesday (Wednesday morning Australian time) of the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee.

"What Ms Yellen says in her prepared remarks and in the Q&A portion of her testimony should set the tone for the week, not just for the stock market but for all capital markets," said Patrick O'Hare of Briefing.com.

There was no major data or earnings releases to drive the markets, though Apple Inc climbed over 2% as activist investor Carl Icahn ended his push for the tech giant to increase its share buyback program.

Meanwhile, fellow tech heavyweight Google Inc was flat after news it was now the second most valuable company in the US, surpassing Exxon Mobil on market capitalisation.

The equities markets scored a net gain last week, shrugging off Friday's disappointing jobs report.

The Dow added 0.6%, snapping a two-week losing streak with its largest weekly point and percentage gain since late December.

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