NEW YORK —
Investors will be closely following the Senate Banking Committee's confirmation hearing for Janet Yellen on Thursday. Yellen has been nominated to succeed Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, becoming the first woman to lead the U.S. central bank.
Yellen's testimony "is coming at an important inflection point," for financial markets, as the Fed considers pulling back on its stimulus, said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial. The Fed is currently buying $85 billion of bonds every month and holding its benchmark interest rate close to zero to stimulate economic growth.
"The market will be looking for any clues" about the Fed's policy going forward, Krosby said.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note jumped last week to 2.75 percent, the highest in six weeks, after the government reported last month's surge in hiring.
In commodities trading, the price of oil rose 54 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $95.14 a barrel. The price of gold fell $3.50, or 0.3 percent, to $1,281.10 an ounce.
Among stocks making big moves:
— ViroPharma jumped $10, or 26 percent, to $49.42, after the company agreed to be acquired by drugmaker Shire PLC.
— Transocean rose $1.80, or 3.4 percent, to $55.27 after the company said it had agreed to a deal with billionaire investor and minority shareholder Carl Icahn after a months-long proxy fight. The company will pay a $3-a-share dividend and reduce the size of its board.
— Best Buy rose $1.38, or 3.3 percent, to $43.80 after an analyst at UBS lifted his rating on the stock to buy from neutral and raised his price target on the stock, in anticipation of better earnings from the retailer. Best Buy has risen 270 percent this year, making it the best performer in the S&P 500 index.