Stocks Rise after Yellen Speech

U.S. stocks closed higher on Thursday after Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen testifying before Senate Banking Committee. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 74.24 points, or 0.46%, at 16,272.65. The S&P 500 was up 9.13 points, or 0.49%, at 1,854.29. The Nasdaq Composite added 26.87 points, or 0.63%, to 4,318.93.

Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen said she isn’t sure how much of the recent deterioration in U.S. economic growth is due to weather, adding the central bank might consider a pause in its reduction of bond buying if the weakness persists.

Gap Inc. (GPS), the biggest U.S. apparel-focused retailer, posted fourth-quarter profit that exceeded analysts’ estimates as deep discounts drew wary shoppers during the holiday season. Net income for the quarter ended Feb. 1 fell 13 percent to $307 million, or 68 cents a share, from $351 million, or 73 cents, a year earlier, the San Francisco-based company said in a statement today.

Wells Fargo & Co. is cutting 700 jobs from its home lending business as mortgage refinancing slows down. Most lenders have said they saw fewer refinancings once interest rates began to rise midway through last year.

U.S. mortgage rates for 30-year loans climbed for a third week,increasing borrowing costs as harsh weather contributes to slowing demand for homes. The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 4.37 percent this week, up from 4.33 percent, Freddie Mac said today.

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