Stocks: Ben Bernanke takes center stage

  @CNNMoneyInvest July 17, 2013: 8:53 AM ET
SP 850

Investors hit the pause button early Wednesday ahead of further comments from U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke.

U.S. stock futures were little changed ahead of the open.

In written testimony released early Wednesday, Bernanke reiterated that monetary policy will remain "highly accommodative" for the foreseeable future. However, he added that the Fed's $85 billion-per-month bond buying program is "by no means on a preset course."

Bernanke said that the pace of the program could increase if the economy falters, but he stressed that it could also be reduced "somewhat more quickly" if the recovery accelerates.

Investors will be looking for more clues on which direction the Fed is leaning when Bernanke goes before the House Financial Services Committee at 10 a.m. ET.

Related: Don't 'panic-sell' bonds

Investors have been keeping a close eye on movements at the Fed, since the central bank's quantitative easing measures have kept the markets awash with liquidity and helped spur recent stock market highs. But Societe Generale analyst Kit Juckes said he isn't expecting anything newsworthy from Bernanke.

"It isn't clear to me at all why this should be a surprise to anyone by now, and I doubt there is much further to go on the downside for U.S. yields -- a massive collective yawn followed by a search for new information seems more likely -- but is possible that the calming tone will have more impact across other markets," wrote Juckes in a market report.

The Fed will also release the latest edition of its Beige Book, a report on regional economies, at 2 p.m. ET, while the Census Bureau will publish data on housing starts and building permits at 8:30 a.m. ET.

U.S. stocks fell slightly Tuesday, snapping an eight-day winning streak for the S&P and a three-day run of gains for the Dow, as investors considered a batch of mixed corporate results.

Related: Fear & Greed Index, still greedy

In the corporate world, Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) released its second-quarter results before the opening bell, reporting a 63% surge in quarterly profit to more than $4 billion.

Yahoo (YHOO, Fortune 500) shares rose more after the company reported a jump in profit though quarterly sales fell slightly short of both Wall Street's expectations and its own results from a year earlier.

CSX (CSX, Fortune 500) shares rose nearly 2% in premarket trading after the rail company reported quarterly earnings that beat expectations.

Results are due Wednesday afternoon from firms including IBM (IBM, Fortune 500), Intel (INTC, Fortune 500), eBay (EBAY, Fortune 500) and American Express (AXP, Fortune 500).

European markets gained slightly morning trading, while Asian markets closed with mixed results. The Shanghai Composite index dipped fell by 1%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index and Tokyo's Nikkei each moved slightly higher. To top of page

Join the Conversation
Sponsored by
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,501.65 -12.72 -0.08%
Nasdaq 4,126.97 -34.49 -0.83%
S&P 500 1,875.39 -4.16 -0.22%
Treasuries 2.69 -0.04 -1.47%
Data as of 7:35am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Facebook Inc 61.36 -1.67 -2.65%
AT&T Inc 34.92 -1.37 -3.78%
Bank of America Corp... 16.37 0.08 0.49%
EMC Corp 25.91 -0.85 -3.18%
Verizon Communicatio... 47.43 -0.49 -1.02%
Data as of Apr 23
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.28%4.41%
15 yr fixed3.30%3.33%
5/1 ARM3.30%3.34%
30 yr refi4.31%4.39%
15 yr refi3.35%3.31%
View rates in your area
Find personalized rates:
Rate data provided
Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.