* Jan retail sales top estimates, consumer price index up
* March rate hike odds jump to 26.6 pct from 13.3 pct
* P&G gains on Trian stake; airlines rise on Berkshire stake
* Indexes : Dow up 0.1 pct, S&P down 0.05 pct, Nasdaq flat
(Adds details, commetns,)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
Feb 15 U.S. stocks were little changed on
Wednesday, although the Dow and the Nasdaq managed to eke out
record intraday highs, as investors assessed a spate of strong
economic data and awaited Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's
Yellen's testimony before the House Financial Services
Committee starts at 10:00 a.m. ET and comes a day after she said
delaying a rate hike would be unwise, without indicating when
the Fed would pull the trigger.
Her testimony will be scrutinized for further clues on when
the central bank might move, as will be comments by three Fed
presidents at other scheduled appearances. Some Fed officials
have said it would be prudent to move sooner than later.
Also boosting the odds of a rate hike were strong reports
that showed retail sales rose much more than expected last
month, while the consumer price index notched its biggest rise
in nearly four years as households paid more for gasoline and
After the data, traders raised the odds of a hike in March
to 26.6 percent from the 13.3 percent odds priced in before the
data was released.
Financial stocks, which benefit in a higher rate
environment, again led the gainers among the 11 major S&P
sectors with a 0.2 percent gain.
Yellen on Tuesday, before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee,
painted a largely upbeat picture of the economy, but also
expressed uncertainty over economic policy under the Trump
At 9:40 a.m. ET (1440 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average
was up 20.25 points, or 0.1 percent, at 20,524.66 and the
S&P 500 was down 1.31 points, or 0.05 percent, at
percent, at 2,336.27.
The Nasdaq Composite was down 0.02 points, or flat,
at 5,782.55, easing from an all-time high of 5,785.39.
The CBOE Volatility index was up 9.6 percent, on
track for its biggest rise this month.
Six of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower, led by interest
rate-sensitive utilities and real estate
Apple rose to a record high of $136.26 after Warren
Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway increased its stake in the
Shares of Southwest, United Continental,
American Airlines and Delta rose about 2 percent
after Berkshire reported investments topping $2.1 billion in
each of the carriers.
Procter & Gamble rose 2.7 percent to $90.28 and gave
the biggest boost to the Dow and the S&P after activist investor
Trian Fund disclosed a stake in the consumer products company.
AIG weighed the most on the S&P, slipping 7.7
percent to $13.78 after the commercial insurer reported a
bigger-than-expected quarterly loss.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,762
to 889. On the Nasdaq, 1,383 issues fell and 929 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed 43 new 52-week highs and no new
lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 56 new highs and seven new lows.
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by