USA stocks open higher on Yellen comments, energy strength

S&P 500 Index

S&P 500 Index

NRG Energy Inc.(NRG) fell 1.5% premarket after scoring its best-ever one-day percentage performance on Wednesday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/nrg-energys-stock-rockets-to-biggest-ever-one-day-gain-2017-07-12).

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 20.95 points, or 0.10%, to 21553.09.

USA equities closed higher on Thursday as retailers rose, led by Target.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 1.34 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,425.66. The S&P 500 added 10 points to 2,436, a gain of 0.4%.

FED TALK: Yellen's comments in her semiannual testimony to Congress assuaged concerns among some traders that the Fed has been too hasty in raising interest rates despite stalling inflation and sluggish US economic growth of just 1.4 percent in the first quarter. T. Rowe Price Group shares rose $3.61, or 4.8 percent, to $79.19.

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Lion cubs face threats from hyenas and wildfires and their mortality rate in the first year is about 50 percent. He said that the lioness has cubs of the same age as the leopard cub, who is between two to three weeks old.

Several large retailers had a good day. Gap added 63 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $22.21. (TGT) said it now expects a surprise "modest increase" in same-store sales (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/targets-stock-jumps-after-raising-sales-profit-outlook-2017-07-13) for the fiscal second quarter, citing improved traffic and sales trends. Cerner slid 19 cents to $55.52.

BONDS: Bond prices fell.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 18 cents to $45.67 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price worldwide oils, added 4 cents to $47.78 per barrel. The euro weakened to $1.1408 from $1.1416. The S&P 500 ended at its second-highest close ever, up 0.7%, while the Nasdaq Composite rallied 1.1%, leaving it just 1% below all-time closing high set on June 8. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was flat at 7,418.

Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 0.19%. South Korea's Kospi gained 0.7 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index edged up 0.01% to hold near two-year highs.

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