* Fed Chair Yellen set to speak at Boston conference
* Indexes set for second weekly loss in a row
* Microsoft rises after Cowen lifts price target
* Indexes up: Dow 0.3 pct, S&P 0.11 pct, Nasdaq 0.09 pct
(Updates to early afternoon)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
Oct 14 Wall Street trimmed gains sharply on
Friday as financial stocks lost steam and focus shifted to
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's speech.
The S&P 500 financial index was up 0.44 percent,
after rising as much as 1.5 percent following JPMorgan,
Citigroup and Wells Fargo market-beating results.
However, Wells Fargo shares fell 0.7 percent as the bank
struggles with a sales scandal that cost Chief Executive John
Stumpf his job. JPMorgan and Citi were flat.
Yellen is due to speak at a conference in Boston where she
could offer her thoughts on the growing support for an interest
rate hike in the near term.
A sustained growth in the labor market and improving
inflation have encouraged policymakers such as Boston Fed
President Eric Rosengren, who said on Friday that placing "very
high" odds on a rate hike in December seemed appropriate.
Traders have currently priced in a 67 percent chance of a
rate hike in December, while the odds for November are minimal
as the Fed's meeting falls just days before the Nov.8 U.S.
"We don't expect a departure from the script, which was laid
out at the minutes of the September meeting, and expect the Fed
to continue moving on a path towards a December rate hike," said
Bill Northey, chief investment officer at the Private Client
Group of U.S. Bank.
Major U.S. stock indexes have been swinging between losses
and gains since Monday due to uncertainty regarding the
quarterly earnings season and the outcome of a tightly run U.S.
The three indexes are on track for the second straight
While earnings of S&P 500 companies are expected to fall 0.7
percent - marking the fifth straight quarter of decline - some
investors hope that enough companies will beat analysts'
expectations for the index to end the season with a slight gain.
At 12:27 p.m. ET (1627 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial
average was up 54.3 points, or 0.3 percent, at 18,153.24.
The S&P 500 was up 2.38 points, or 0.11 percent, at
2,134.93 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 4.77 points, or
0.09 percent, at 5,218.10.
Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with
technology rising the most by 0.47 percent. Microsoft
was its biggest driver, rising 0.8 percent after Cowen
& Co raised its price target.
McDonald's fell 0.6 percent after the fast-food
chain operator announced charges related to strategic changes it
had outlined last year.
HP Inc fell 2.9 percent after the company said it
would cut about 3,000 to 4,000 jobs over the next three years.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,575
to 1,300. On the Nasdaq, 1,369 issues rose and 1,318 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed three new 52-week highs and one new
lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 21 new highs and 58 new lows.
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by
Don Sebastian and Anil D'Silva)