* Yellen’s comment boosts dollar, Treasury yields
* Stocks down after data, Yellen hints at Dec. rate hike
* Asia rally spills over the Europe despite earnings misses
* Energy sector stocks reverse course as oil prices fall (Updates with U.S. stock market open, changes byline, changes dateline, previous LONDON, Yellen comments)
By Sinead Carew
NEW YORK, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Wall Street stocks, unable to follow a rally in European and Asian stocks on Wednesday, fell further after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the U.S. economy is “performing well” and could justify an interest rate hike in December.
The U.S. dollar and U.S. Treasury yields moved higher after Yellen’s comments, building on a rise that followed earlier data showing stronger-than-expected private-sector U.S. job growth.
Yellen told Congress the Fed expects the economy to continue to grow at a pace that returns inflation to policy-makers’ target and that “if the incoming information supports that expectation ... December would be a live possibility” for a rate increase at the Fed’s next policy-setting meeting.
U.S. stocks, already down after the data, took a deeper dive after Yellen’s comments.
At 1138 EST (1638 GMT) the Dow Jones industrial average fell 52.58 points, or 0.29 percent, to 17,865.57, the S&P 500 lost 8.79 points, or 0.42 percent, to 2,101 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 15.53 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,129.60.
U.S. two-year Treasury yields hit their highest levels in over four years after Yellen’s comments.
U.S two-year note yields hit 0.8200 percent, their highest level since April 2011. Three-year yields hit 1.1484 percent, their highest level in four months, while five-year yields hit 1.6490 percent, their highest in roughly three months.
The U.S. dollar index was up 0.8 percent against a basket of major currencies while the euro fell about 1 percent against the dollar.
U.S. private employers maintained a steady pace of hiring in October and the trade deficit hit a seven-month low in September as exports rebounded. ADP reported 182,000 new private sector jobs compared with a 180,000 forecast.
The Federal Reserve had previously said it will move in December if data shows the economy could sustain it.
“It’s positive. It’s a good sign. This sets the foundation and if the rest of the data are good, (the Fed) might feel compelled to raise rates in December,” said Craig Dismuke, chief economist at Vining Sparks in Memphis, Tennessee referring to the data which came ahead of Yellen’s comments.
The decline in the S&P 500 was led by healthcare, consumer discretionary and energy sectors.
A U.S. Senate panel continued to put the spotlight on drug pricing with the launch of a bipartisan probe into pharmaceutical pricing, seeking documents from four drugmakers including Valeant Pharmaceuticals VRX.TO and Turing Pharmaceuticals, two companies embroiled in controversy over price hikes on lifesaving drugs.
Oil prices fell after a rally the day before and a U.S. government report showed a higher than expected build in oil stocks as well as on OPEC’s expectations that demand for its oil will remain under pressure in the next years.
Brent crude futures were down 2.2 percent at $49.39 a barrel while U.S. crude fell 1.8 percent to $47.03.
Gold fell to a fresh one-month low, in its sixth straight session of losses, as a rising dollar and talk of a near-term hike in U.S. interest rates kept the precious metal under pressure.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of major companies was up 0.4 percent, after earlier reaching its highest point since August 19. Private-sector surveys indicated Germany was on a solid growth path and French activity expanded at its fastest clip in four months in October.
With Europe’s earnings season past the halfway point, just over half of reporting companies reported missed forecasts and companies exposed to a commodities slump have been hit hard.
In Asia, comments from China’s president about the economy and Beijing’s proposal of its five-year plan lifted Shanghai stocks. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 1.26 percent. (Additional reporting by Richard Leong, Sam Frogione and Dion Rabouin in New York, Editing by Alison Williams and Chizu Nomiyama)