Stocks muted ahead of Powell testimony, jobs report

STORY: U.S. stocks ended Monday with a whimper, closing mostly flat as investors braced for this week’s congressional testimony from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and critical employment data.

The Dow nudged up a tenth of a point, the S&P 500 also gained fractionally and the Nasdaq dipped a tenth of a point.

Rob Hayworth, Senior Investment Strategy Director at U.S. Bank Wealth Management, says Monday’s quiet session comes as the markets await what he called “the three Js.”

"We get Jerome Powell tomorrow speaking in front of Congress, as well as Wednesday. We get the Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey on Wednesday, and the February Jobs report on Friday. So, the market's really waiting for those Js to drop to decide what is its next move forward.”

Investors will look for clues about the Fed's future rate hiking path to tame inflation when Powell testifies before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday. Since he last spoke, strong economic data, including a robust labor market, and hotter than expected inflation have raised concerns the Fed will raise rates higher than expected or keep them higher for longer.

Among Monday’s movers, the commodity-linked materials sector was weak after China set a lower-than-expected target for economic growth this year at around 5%... with shares of DuPont and Dow among those falling.

And shares of cryptocurrency-related companies were volatile after Silvergate Capital pulled the plug on its crypto payments network and raised doubts about the company's ability to stay in business.