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Stocks edge up as Bernanke reassures on stimulus

Some soothing words from Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke pushed the stock market to slender gains Wednesday. Higher earnings for several major companies also helped.

Bernanke said the U.S. central bank had no firm timetable for cutting back on its bond purchases. The Fed would consider reducing its stimulus program if the economy improves, but Bernanke emphasized in his testimony to Congress that the reductions were "by no means on a preset course."

Concerns that the Fed was poised to start easing back on its stimulus before the economy had recovered sufficiently caused the stock market to pull back in June.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index climbed 0.28 percent to 1,680.91. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.32 percent to 3,610. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 18.67 points to 15,470.52.

Bernanke's comments had a stronger impact on the Treasury market than on the stock market.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.49 percent from 2.53 percent late Tuesday as investors bought U.S. government bonds. The yield has been declining since July 5, when it surged to 2.74 percent after the government reported that hiring was strong in June.

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