"So much for last week's Fed Minutes; did the market forget who the chief cook and bottle washer is?" wrote Elliot Spar, market strategist at Stifel Nicolaus. "If they did, Ben has set them straight and the market loves it. Those that bailed last week and again on the worry over the elections in Italy now find themselves underperforming."
In his second day of testimony before Congress, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said that the nation's unemployment rate probably won't reach the 6 percent level until 2016, giving further support for the central bank's easy monetary policy and warned Congress against letting looming spending cuts take place.
Stocks recovered their losses from earlier this week after being rocked by Italy's election results. All three major averages are now in positive territory for the week.
"We're in a sideways process with the Dow around 14,000 and we'll probably be around here for a while," said Jeff Kleintop, chief market strategist at LPL Financial. "Profit and economic growth may be softer in Europe and we're probably due for a pullback, but I don't think it's going to be a big one. You want to buy into the dips and put capital to work."
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Apple ended in the red as tech giant's CEO Tim Cook dismissed hedge fund manager David Einhorn's lawsuit against the company as being a "silly sideshow," but said the iPhone maker is "seriously considering" ways to return cash to shareholders. Apple is currently sitting on more than $137 billion in excess cash.
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"I don't like it either," Cook said of Apple stock's 35-percent plunge since hitting an all-time high last September, but urged shareholders to focus on the longer term, adding that 2012 had been "an incredible year of innovation" at the company.
Flower Foods climbed after the packaged bakery goods company won the bid for Hostess Bread in a deal worth $360 million, CNBC learned.