U.S. stocks stepped tentatively higher on Monday after Wall Street's best weekly performance this year, as investors waited to hear from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, who makes her first monetary policy report to lawmakers on Tuesday.
The most important event for Wall Street this week should be Yellen's testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday, followed by the Senate on Thursday, said Phil Orlando,chief equity strategist at Federated Investors. "From my perspective, I would like to see a continuation of the taper, if that is the policy that is support by their analysis of the economy," he added.
"Yellen is likely to let it (tapering) be as she explains Fed policy to Congress," Paul Nolte, a portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management, wrote in emailed comments.
"Many are on the sidelines as they await Janet Yellen's testimony tomorrow before the House. I expected it to be one of these 'we will continue to taper but on the other hand it is data dependent.' What the markets reaction to that is anybody's guess and I'm not going to," offered Elliot Spar, market strategist at Stifel, Nicolaus, in afternoon commentary.
McDonald's reported better-than-expected global sales at established restaurants in January, but U.S. same-store sales declined more than estimated. Hasbro fell after the toy maker posted fourth-quarter earnings short of estimates. Yelp surged after The Wall Street Journal reported Yahoo would include Yelp's ratings of local businesses in its search results, citing a person familiar with the deal.
Shares of Apple rose after Carl Icahn said he doesn't see any reason to continue pushing the tech giant to repurchase more of its shares.