Wall Street waits for Bernanke’s view on growth

US stocks finished flat yesterday as investors held back before congressional testimony by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, while scattered buying lifted shares of health insurers and banks.

President Barack Obama revised plans for an overhaul of US healthcare. The Morgan Stanley healthcare payor index rose 1.7 per cent, but investors said financial shares bene fited from the focus shifting away from reform in that sector.

The KBW bank index rose 1.9 per cent, but energy shares weighed on the broader market.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 18.97 points, or 0.18 per cent, to end at 10,383.38. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index shed 1.16 points, or 0.10 per cent, to 1,108.01. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 1.84 points, or 0.08 per cent, to 2,242.03.

Investors are hoping Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke clarifies the Fed’s thinking behind last week’s surprising hike in the discount rate that begins the removal of the extraordinary liquidity that has propped up markets.