U.S. Markets closed

Stocks, dollar trade little changed ahead of Yellen

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange February 4, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar and prices in global equity markets were little changed on Monday as investors awaited the first congressional testimony of new Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen after a weak labor market report for January left investors skittish.

U.S. stocks were mixed on the heels of the benchmark S&P 500's best two-day performance in four months late last week, while a measure of global equity activity and a broad European stock index rose slightly.

The U.S. Labor Department reported on Friday that non-farm payrolls rose by 113,000 last month, well below the consensus forecast of 185,000. But investors attributed the disappointing data to inclement weather and bid stocks higher.

The dollar held steady against major currencies on Monday as traders waited to hear the economic and policy views of Yellen, who is viewed as an architect of the U.S. central bank's current ultra-loose monetary policy.

Yellen appears before the Republican-controlled House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday and the Democrat-controlled Senate Banking Committee on Thursday.

"It doesn't provide a lot of incentive to move the dollar out of its current trading range," said Bob Lynch, head of G10 FX strategy at HSBC Bank USA in New York.

The dollar index last traded down 0.07 percent at 80.637, and the greenback was mildly weaker versus the yen at 102.17 yen, down 0.16 percent on the day.

The euro rose 0.06 percent against the dollar at $1.3641.

MSCI's all-country equity index, a measure of global equity markets, rose 0.15 percent, while the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 closed up 0.08 percent at 1,301.09.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 20.40 points, or 0.13 percent, at 15,773.68. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 0.69 points, or 0.04 percent, at 1,796.33. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 10.99 points, or 0.27 percent, at 4,136.85.

Yellen is expected to stay the course with slowly winding down the Fed's bond buying program this year, a process termed the "taper."

The Fed has been cutting its bond purchases by $10 billion a month as the U.S. economy has improved. The bond buying has largely supported commodity and equity markets.

"The overall sentiment is 'steady as she goes,' said Tariq Zahir, managing member of commodity trading adviser Tyche Capital Advisors in New York. "I don't think there's going to be a taper of the taper."

Benchmark safe-haven bonds, including U.S. Treasuries and German Bunds, maintained tight ranges as investors looked ahead to a string of risk events later this week.

The benchmark U.S. Treasury 10-year note fell 2/32 in price to yield 2.6802 percent in a see-saw session.

Bund futures settled down 18 ticks at 143.65 euros.

Brent crude oil slipped after hitting a five-week high above $109 a barrel.

March Brent crude was down 72 cents at $108.85 a barrel. U.S. crude rose 21 cents to $100.09, after rising to $100.46, a 2014 high.

(Reporting by Herbert Lash; Additional reporting by Marc Jones in London; Editing by Dan Grebler)