Some experts said traders were disappointed that Bernanke failed to expand on further plans to stimulate the economy, while others noted that it may never happen unless macro data continues to disappoint.
"The only way that [the Fed] could possibly consider QE3 is if the macro data refuses to improve and the market starts to take a real hit—another 15 percent from here," said Kenny Polcari, managing director of ICAP Equtiies. "But if that doesn’t happen and if things just muddle along, then I don’t think there will or should be any QE3."
Volume continued to be light with the consolidated tape of the NYSE at 3.2 billion shares, while just 853 million shares changed hands on the floor.
BofA , Citigroup and JPMorgan ended mixed after JMP Securities cut its share views on the banks.
In earnings news, FedEx gained after the shipping service giant posted better-than-expected profits and expect robust earnings in 2012. S&P Equity raised its price target on the firm to $120 from $113 and JPMorgan resumed coverage with an "overweight" rating. Rival UPS also rose following the news.
Adobe tumbled after the software maker reported earnings and revenue that topped analysts forecasts Tuesday but its outlook fell short. In addition, Brigantine cut its price target on the firm to $34 from $36.
CarMax jumped to lead the S&P gainers after the used-car retailer's quarterly results blew past estimates as consumer continued to stay away from purchasing new cars in a slow-recovering economy.
And Jabil Circuit gained after the contract manufacturer reported earnings that beat estimates, thanks to a jump in revenue, but the firm expects current quarter profit largely below forecast. Meanwhile, RBC cut its price target on the company to $25 from $30.
Bed, Bath & Beyond is scheduled to post earnings after-the-bell tonight.
L3 Communications climbed after investment firm Relational Investors reported the largest stakeof almost 6 percent in the major defense contractor.
Philips Electronics plunged after the world's biggest lighting maker warned ofsharply lower profits at two of its three key divisions and said it would announce cost cuts soon.
Yahoo was slightly lower after the search-engine firm said they have made progress towards an agreementwith Alibaba over the e-payment unit Alipay.
Research In Motion slipped to hit another 52-week low after the BlackBerry maker was removed from UBS' list of top tech picks. RIM shares have plunged more than 50 percent year-to-date.
Meanwhile, Dentsply International advanced after the firm agreed to buy AstraZeneca's dental implants and medical devices unit for $1.8 billion in cash.
Oil extended gainsafter crude supplies dropped by 1.7 million barrels last week, according to a government report. U.S. light, sweet crude climbed $1.24 to settle at $95.41 a barrel, while London Brent crude rose $3.26 to settle at $114.21.
On the economic front, weekly mortgage applications fell last week as refinance demand dropped and interest rates rose, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
The confidence vote was passed in parliamentand enables the Greek government to push ahead with tough austerity measures which are key to avoid a default. However, fears that new bailout funds will not be unlocked remain a cause for concern.
European shares fell amid concerns that the Fed will be able to further prop up a weakening recovery.
Coming Up This Week:
WEDNESDAY: Earnings from Bed Bath & Beyond
THURSDAY: Weekly jobless claims, new home sales, money supply, Yahoo shareholders meeting; Earnings from ConAgra, Discover Financial, Oracle, Accenture, Micron
FRIDAY: Durable goods, GDP, corporate profits
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