Bullish momentum should drive stocks higher in the week ahead as markets watch to see if Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke weighs in on whether the economy is strong enough to justify paring back on Fed bond buying any time soon.
The debate about whether and when the Fed should start trimming back on its bond-buying program was underway in markets this past week, and was further fueled by the comments of Fed hawks. It also has made the Fed chairman's economic testimony before the Congressional Joint Economic Committee Wednesday even more important.
"He's got to be a bit of a two-handed economist," said Pimco strategist Tony Crescenzi. "On the one hand, he shows the Fed is concerned about downside risk to growth, and in so doing keeps markets believing the Fed will remain accommodative for a long time, but on the other hand, he has to seem somewhat optimistic about the future because the decision point is getting closer to a taper. Given the rising asset prices and improving employment…he'll say there's been progress."