All eyes are on Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve Wednesday as investors await clues about whether the central bank will continue to pump money into the financial system.
"Financial markets are addicted to [quantitative easing] and the idea of going cold turkey, or simply reducing the second dose, is unappealing," wrote Societe Generale analyst Kit Juckes, in a note to investors. "That's how I feel about cutting back on my early morning coffee intake. But I know I drink too much coffee and the Fed must know it's time to scale back."
U.S. stock futures were modestly higher, as investors anticipate the central bank will not start tapering off its stimulus programs in the near future.
Bernanke will discuss his outlook for the economy Wednesday before Congress in a hearing that begins at 10 a.m. ET.
Brown Brothers Harriman strategist Marc Chandler expects Bernanke to say "there will be no imminent tapering off of purchases of long-term assets and that the decision is dependent on the trajectory of prices and the labor market."
Then at 2 p.m. the Fed will release the minutes from its most recent policy meeting.
U.S. stocks rose Tuesday after New York Fed president William Dudley said the central bank needs to rethink its current strategy to exit the bond-buying program. Dudley stressed that such adjustments could involve increasing or decreasing the pace of the program.
That ambiguity helped ease concerns that the central bank may be moving toward a more rapid exit strategy, according to Steven Ricchiuto, chief economist at Mizuho Securities USA.