By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch , Ryan Vlastelica
Wal-Mart tumbles, Best Buy higher after results
U.S. stocks edged higher on Thursday as an improving economic picture and greater clarity on Federal Reserve policy allowed the market's postelection uptrend to continue, although the Dow Jones Industrial Average was pressured by a selloff in Wal-Mart.
In testimony prepared for her appearance before the Joint Economic Committee, Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen said an interest-rate hike could come "relatively soon (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/yellen-says-fed-may-hike-interest-rates-relatively-soon-2016-11-17)," further underlining expectations a rate move could come at the central bank's December meeting. While that has long been seen as a likely time for a rate increase announcement, some investors have speculated on the possibility of a delay following the unexpected election of , which injected a measure of uncertainty into economic outlooks.
Watch: Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen's testimony to Congress (http://blogs.marketwatch.com/capitolreport/2016/11/17/live-blog-and-video-of-fed-chairwoman-janet-yellens-testimony-to-congress/)
The S&P 500 was up 0.3% to 2,183, a rise of 6 points, while the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 25 points to 5,319, a rise of less than 0.5%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 6 points, or less than 0.1% to 18,864.
The Dow was pressured as shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) fell 4.1% following weaker-than-expected sales (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/wal-mart-shares-fall-after-revenue-miss-2016-11-17). The blue-chip index broke a seven-session winning streak in its Wednesday session, as a postelection rally for financial stocks hit pause. That rally resumed on Thursday, with the financial sector up more than 1%.
"Recent economic data has suggested the economy is improving and that the Fed is likely to raise rates next month. We think that's the right move given how strong labor markets have been, however, equities don't look cheap based on a number of valuation metrics," said David Carter, chief investment officer at Lenox Wealth Advisors.
In the latest economic data, jobless claims fell far more than expected in the latest week (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/jobless-claims-fall-to-43-year-low-of-235000-2016-11-17), sinking to a 43-year low. Consumer inflation rose at the fastest rate (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/higher-gas-prices-boost-inflation-in-october-cpi-shows-2016-11-17)in six months in October, which could make an interest-rate increase more likely, even though the spikestemmed largely from more expensive gasoline. The Philadelphia Fed (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/philly-fed-index-eases-but-remains-positive-for-fourth-month-2016-11-17)said its manufacturing index eased in November to a reading of 7.6 from 9.7 in October.
The ICE dollar index , which measures the currency against a basket of six rivals, rose 0.1%, extending a rally that took it to a 13-month high on Wednesday.
Need to know:Carl Icahn says dial back on stocks, as Trump rally looks overdone (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/carl-icahn-says-dial-back-on-stocks-as-trump-rally-looks-overdone-2016-11-17)
(http://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-transition-teams-incoherence-could-torpedo-market-rally-2016-11-16)In other Fed appearances, Gov. Lael Brainard will give a speech about "the evolution of work" at the New York Fed at 12:30 p.m. Eastern. New York Fed President William Dudley will speak at two events in New York, at 8:50 a.m. Eastern, then again at 9:10 a.m. Eastern.
Read:Bond guru Bill Gross says Trump voters will suffer most from election (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bond-guru-bill-gross-says-trump-voters-will-suffer-most-from-election-result-2016-11-16)
Stocks to watch:Best Buy Co. Inc (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/best-buys-stock-soars-after-results-and-profit-outlook-beat-expectations-2016-11-17).(BBY) surged over 9% after results and profits beat forecasts.Staples Inc (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/staples-quarterly-earnings-meet-expectations-but-sales-miss-wall-streets-target-2016-11-17). was unchanged after sales missed analysts expectations.
Tesoro Corp.(TSO) said it would buy Western Refining Inc.(WNR) in a deal worth around $4.1 billion on Thursday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tesoro-to-buy-western-refining-for-41-billion-2016-11-17). Tesoro shares rose 1.7% while Western Refining popped 23%.
Gap Inc (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gap-earnings-a-facility-fire-has-near-term-benefits-2016-11-16).(GPS), Salesforce.com Inc (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/what-to-expect-when-salesforce-reports-earnings-2016-11-15).(CRM) and Applied Materials Inc. (AMAT) will report after the closing bell.
Other markets: Equities were subdued in Asia (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/asian-markets-slip-as-oil-prices-fall-2016-11-16) and Europe (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-struggle-for-direction-with-ecb-minutes-on-deck-2016-11-17). Gold prices rose moderately, up 0.2%.
Crude prices (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-prices-pull-back-after-another-jump-in-us-supply-2016-11-17) rose 0.1%, sharply falling from its highs of the session. Oil had previously jumped more than 1% higher after Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih reportedly made upbeat comments (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/saudi-deal-optimism-sparks-rebound-for-oil-prices-2016-11-17) in a television interview about a production-cut deal at the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on Nov. 30.
Pressure appeared to be easing on the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond yield , after Treasury prices rose Wednesday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/treasury-yields-on-rise-for-7th-straight-session-2016-11-16), snapping a six-session losing streak.
Opinion: Trump transition team turmoil could torpedo market rally (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-transition-teams-incoherence-could-torpedo-market-rally-2016-11-16)
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 17, 2016 12:05 ET (17:05 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2016 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.