S&P 500 lags global markets as Yellen ends two-day testimony

Wed Feb 25, 2015 5:01pm EST
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By Sinead Carew

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wall Street lagged a rise in global markets on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq closing slightly lower even as energy shares gained along with a surge in oil prices.

Upbeat U.S. housing data and Chinese factory data were not enough to drive up sentiment and a second day of testimony by U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen provided few new clues on the timing of an interest rate hike.

MSCI's 46-country world index .MIWD00000PUS was up 0.19 percent at 433.63 points at the end of the U.S. trading session, stopping a fraction of a point short of its September peak.

On Wall Street, a sharp drop in shares of Apple Inc (AAPL.O: Quote) took a toll on the S&P 500 .SPX and Nasdaq, but the Dow .DJI marked another record closing high, boosted by McDonald's Corp (MCD.N: Quote). [.N] ECONG7

In China, the closely watched flash HSBC/Markit Purchasing Managers' Index showed February factory activity hit a four-month high but export orders shrank at their fastest rate in 20 months.

While China contributed positive momentum, investors are waiting for catalysts such as an upcoming U.S. jobs report and more clarity from the Fed, said Paul Christopher, head of international strategy at Wells Fargo Investment Institute.

"Now you need another impulse to move higher," he said.

Weakening global growth has kept investors on edge about the Fed's plans, with some worrying a premature rate-hike cycle may slow U.S. economic momentum and hurt Europe and China.   Continued...

Traders are pictured at their desks in front of the DAX board at the Frankfurt stock exchange February 24, 2015.  REUTERS/Stringer/Remote