U.S. stocks opened higher Wednesday ahead of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech and the minutes at the Federal Open Market Committee's latest policy meeting.
Major stock indices rebounded on Tuesday, lifting the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 to new record highs, as dovish remarks from Fed officials eased concerns over the tapering of the ongoing massive asset purchases.
All eyes are on Bernanke's testimony before the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress, and investors will watch closely for any hint of the Fed's future monetary policy.
The minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee's policy meeting in early May will be released on Tuesday afternoon. In a statement following the meeting, the Fed changed its previous dovish tone to a more neutral one, saying it was prepared to "increase or reduce the pace of its purchases to maintain appropriate policy accommodation as the outlook for the labor market or inflation changes."
On the economic front, the U.S. National Association of Realtors will release existing home sales data for April. Existing home sales in March fell 0.6 percent from the February level to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 million.
In corporate news, Hewlett-Packard will report its second fiscal quarter earnings after the closing bell. Analysts expected a weak report due to the declining personal computer market and increasing competition from the tablet market.
Shares of Saks Inc. surged 15.14 percent to 15.74 dollars a share on report that the luxury department store chain hired Goldman Sachs to seek strategic alternatives.
Shortly after the opening bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 36.23 points, or 0.24 percent, to 15,423.81 points. The S&P 500 was up 4.09 points, or 0.25 percent, to 1,673.25 points. The Nasdaq Composite rose 3.94 points, or 0.11 percent, to 3,506.06 points.