Stocks edge up on Bernanke’s QE assurances

US stocks ended modestly higher yesterday after Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said the timeline for winding down the organisation’s stimulus programme was not set in stone.

Shares of Bank of America and Yahoo rose after both companies reported stronger-than-expected quarterly results. Both ranked among the names giving the biggest boost to the S&P 500.

The three major US stock indexes bounced back from Tuesday’s lower close, which broke the S&P 500’s eight-day string of gains.

Bernanke said the US central bank still expects to start scaling back its massive bond-buying programme later this year, but he said the timeline depended on the economic outlook. He made the comments yesterday before the House Financial Services Committee as part of his twice-yearly report to Congress on monetary policy. Today he will appear before the Senate Banking Committee.

Bernanke’s comments on 22 May triggered a drop of nearly 6 per cent in the S&P 500 in the month that followed. But remarks from Bernanke and other Fed officials since then have calmed the market and erased those declines. The S&P 500 is just several points away from the all-time intraday high of 1,687.18 it reached on 22 May.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 18.67 points, or 0.12 per cent, to end at 15,470.52. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 4.65 points, or 0.28 per cent, to finish at 1,680.91. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 11.50 points, or 0.32 per cent, to close at 3,610.00.