November 13, 2019 / 5:22 PM / 8 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall St edges higher as Fed's Powell testifies before Congress

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* Powell says ‘sustained expansion’ likely for U.S. economy

* Alibaba slips on planned $13.4 bln Hong Kong listing

* Indexes up: Dow 0.14%, S&P 0.10%, Nasdaq 0.04% (Changes comment, updates market action)

By Arjun Panchadar

Nov 13 (Reuters) - Wall Street’s main indexes turned slightly higher on Wednesday as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank saw a “sustained expansion” ahead for the U.S. economy.

His comments are widely watched as the Fed lowered borrowing costs three times this year to cushion the world’s largest economy from a global slowdown.

Powell added that the full impact of the interest rate cuts were yet to be felt, as he testified before the Congress.

Meanwhile, data showed U.S. consumer prices rebounded more than expected in October and underlying inflation picked up.

“It looks like not a lot of action today ... inflation still seems to be in check and the Fed does not seem to concerned about it,” said Jeff Kravetz, regional investment director, U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management.

Five of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were higher led by gains in defensive names such as utilities, real estate and consumer staples, indicating investor caution.

Impeachment inquiries on U.S. President Donald Trump as well as geopolitical tensions such as the escalating anti-government protests in Hong Kong are factors that investors are keeping a close eye on.

The benchmark S&P 500 and Nasdaq hit all-time highs on Tuesday, but pulled back slightly after Trump dangled the prospect of completing an initial trade deal with China “soon,” but offered no new details on negotiations.

The three major U.S. stock indexes have had a strong start to this month on the back of a strong corporate earnings season and hopes of a trade deal.

“We are coming to a critical time ... as we get to the end of the year, trade tensions may spill over to the consumer side which may have a more dire effect on the economy and the markets,” Kravetz said.

At 11:45 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 37.96 points, or 0.14%, at 27,729.45, the S&P 500 was up 3.04 points, or 0.10%, at 3,094.88 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 3.77 points, or 0.04%, at 8,489.86.

However, the financial sector fell 0.40%, tracking a drop in benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yields and weighed the most on the S&P 500 index.

Shares of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd slipped 2.6% as the Chinese e-commerce giant revealed plans to launch a Hong Kong share sale to raise up to $13.4 billion.

SmileDirectClub Inc slumped about 19% as the teeth alignment company posted a bigger quarterly loss and pointed towards more losses for the year.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.20-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.44-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 17 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 53 new highs and 88 new lows. (Reporting by Arjun Panchadar and Agamoni Ghosh in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Shounak Dasgupta)

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