US stocks edged higher at the open on Wednesday, ahead of highly anticipated testimony in Congress by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on the economy and monetary policy.
Bernanke is expected to strike a dovish tone when he addresses a congressional committee today.
Earlier on Wednesday, influential New York Fed President William Dudley reinforced his own remarks from Tuesday, when he damped speculation that the U.S. central bank was preparing to reduce its monetary stimulus.
"A break from past statements, of course, will have a big impact on the market, but I think (Bernanke's speech) will be more of the same," said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.
The Fed's ultra loose monetary policy is one of the main forces behind a rally in U.S. equities that has taken the S&P 500 and Dow industrials to record highs. Dudley's remarks Tuesday boosted U.S. stocks in afternoon trading.
"We are at a point where there isn't really anything more the Fed could do for stocks," said Meckler, adding that market participants will be looking for clues on how the Fed plans to handle the eventual winding down of its stimulus program.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 22.29 points or 0.14pc, to 15,409.87, the S&P 500 gained 2.31 points or 0.14pc, to 1,671.47 and the Nasdaq Composite added 2.46 points or 0.07pc, to 3,504.58.