- S&P 500, Dow gain, Nasdaq falls
- S&P 500
hits intraday high of 1,884
- Fed officials in focus on Yellen comments
- West sanctions more Russian officials
Dow Jones: 0.40%
S&P 500: 0.37%
US stocks were mostly higher on Friday morning with the S&P 500 rising to a new intraday high early on as investors awaited speeches from a number of Federal Reserve officials on a quiet day for economic data.
Sentiment was also helped after Fitch Ratings raised its outlook on the US credit rating to 'stable' from 'negative' after Congress suspended the nation's debt limit for more than a year, which reduces the risk of a default.
The S&P 500 was trading 0.4% higher at 1,879 by 10:06 in New York, having jumped to a new high of 1,884 initially after the opening bell. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4%, but the Nasdaq fell 0.3%.
Comments from Fed members James Bullard, Richard Fisher, Narayana Kocherlakota and Jeremy Stein will be closely watched later on, following the central bank's decision on Wednesday that it would cut asset purchases by $10bn a month to $55bn.
The policymakers may potentially shed further light on remarks from Fed Chair Janet Yellen who indicated that the central bank could raise interest rates about six months after it ends quantitative easing (QE).
With QE set to end this autumn - provided the Fed continues to taper at the same pace - the first rate hike could come as early as the second quarter of next year; analysts had expected rates to rise towards the end of 2015.
Despite the decent start on markets, tensions still remain high in Crimea as the European Union (EU) and US announced more targeted sanctions against Russian and Ukraine officials following the move to annex Crimea earlier this week. Moscow officially finalised a treaty incorporating the region today.
US President Barack Obama said yesterday the government is imposing sanctions on more senior officials of the Russian government.
"In addition, we are today sanctioning a number of other individuals with substantial resources and influence who provide material support to the Russian leadership, as well as a bank that provides material support to these individuals," he said.
The EU said any further steps by Moscow to destabilise Ukraine would have "far-reaching consequences" as it imposed sanctions on 12 more Russian officials.
Nike, Unwired Planet
Nike dropped after the sporting goods firm projected sales in the quarter through May that fell short of market expectations.
Unwired Planet saw its shares
rocket after Chinese PC manufacturer Lenovo said it would buy a patent portfolio and license certain patents for $100m.
Genco Shipping & Trading Ltd gained after saying it is still in talks about a potential debt restructuring.
Customer review site Yelp advanced after partnering with advertising platform YP to improve business listings.
Jewellery retailer Tiffany & Co slumped after reporting quarterly earnings that missed analysts' estimates.
Symantec Corp declined after the maker of security software fired its Chief Executive Officer Steve Bennett.