U.S. stocks mixed ahead of Bernanke speech

Wall Street was narrowly mixed in early trading Thursday, pausing ahead of more remarks from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, whose upbeat take on inflation and economic growth a day earlier catapulted the Dow Jones industrials to new highs.

Bernanke was expected begin a second day of congressional testimony at 10 a.m. On Wednesday, he said exactly what investors wanted to hear: that the U.S. economy will keep growing modestly and inflation will continue to ease, a forecast that alleviated worries that policy makers might start hiking interest rates again.

A rate boost also looked unlikely to investors after economic data released Thursday, which showed a big jump in unemployment claims last week, and a huge drop in industrial output in January due to large cutbacks and layoffs in the auto industry.

Profit-taking ahead of the Philadelphia Fed's report on manufacturing held the market back somewhat, but stocks got a small boost from an analyst upgrade of chip maker Qualcomm Inc.

In the first hour of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 8.09, or 0.06 percent, to 12,749.95.

Broader stock indicators were mixed. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down 0.22, or 0.02 percent, to 1,455.08, while the Nasdaq composite index was up 2.48, or 0.10 percent, to 2,490.86, reports AP.

Bonds rose, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note falling to 4.70 percent from 4.74 percent late Wednesday. The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices slipped.

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