US Stocks Higher Early; Oil Rises

(AP) -- US stocks solidly higher in early trading; oil rises U.S. stocks climbed in early trading Wednesday as investors weighed Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen's remarks before Congress. The gains were broad, with real estate companies leading the pack. Energy stocks also posted big gains as the price of crude oil headed higher. Bond prices rose.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 17 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,443 as of 10:13 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 154 points, or 0.7 percent, to 21,563. The Nasdaq composite added 52 points, or 0.9 percent, to 6,245. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 14 points, or 1.1 percent, to 1,427. The Dow was trading above it latest record high close.

YELLEN EFFECT: In her semiannual testimony before Congress on the economy, Yellen said the central bank expects to keep raising a key interest rate at a gradual pace and also plans to start trimming its massive bond holdings this year. Yellen cited a number of encouraging factors, including strong job gains and rising household wealth that she said should drive economic growth over the next two years. Many economists believe the Fed, which has raised rates three times since December, will increase rates one more time this year.

LEADING THE PACK: Real estate companies and other high-dividend paying stocks were among the big gainers, benefiting from rising bond prices, which pulled bond yields lower. Mall owner Simon Property Group climbed $3.92, or 2.5 percent, to $157.86.

STRONG QUARTER: Fastenal rose 1.4 percent after the fastener maker's latest quarterly earnings and sales exceeded Wall Street's forecasts. The stock added 62 cents to $44.21.

DEBT PLAY: NRG Energy soared 19.8 percent after the company said it plans to raise up to $4 billion through asset sales in order to lower its debt. The stock added $3.23 to $19.53.

BONDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.31 percent from 2.37 percent late Tuesday.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude climbed $1.13 or 2.5 percent, to $46.16 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 84 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $48.36 per barrel in London.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: Stocks turned higher in Europe, sending Germany's DAX up 1.5 percent, while France's CAC 40 gained 1.7 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 1.3 percent. Markets in Asia finished mostly lower. Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.5 percent and South Korea's Kospi lost 0.2 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.6 percent.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 113.18 yen from 113.84 yen late Tuesday. The euro weakened to $1.1415 from $1.1476.