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Stocks edge higher after Yellen remarks

NEW YORK - Stocks rose in early trading Tuesday as new Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen signaled the central bank would continue to dial back its stimulus program if the economy keeps improving.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 55 points, or 0.4 percent, to 15,856 as of 9:50 a.m. ET. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose five points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,805 and the Nasdaq composite rose 11 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,159.

In her first public comments since taking over the top Fed job last week, Yellen said in prepared remarks to Congress Tuesday that she expects a "great deal of continuity" with her predecessor, Ben Bernanke. She signaled that she supports his view that the economy is strengthening enough to withstand a pullback in the Fed's stimulus, but that rates should stay low to fuel further growth. Last week the Fed announced it would reduce its bond purchases by $10 billion a month to $65 billion a month.

Drugstore and pharmacy benefits company CVS Caremark rose $1.69, or 3 percent, to $68.61 after the company reported a 12 percent rise in fourth-quarter earnings, beating analysts' forecasts. CVS said last week it would stop selling tobacco products, which the company expects will cost about $2 billion in sales and will cut its earnings by 6 cents to 9 cents per share.

Barclays fell 79 cents, or 4 percent, to $17.41 after the British bank, citing a slowdown in its investment banking division, said it would slash up to 12,000 employees.

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