* Saks rallies on report it could sell itself
* Bernanke seen hitting dovish note in testimony
* Dow, S&P, Nasdaq up 0.1 pct
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, May 22 U.S. stocks edged higher at the
open on Wednesday, ahead of highly anticipated testimony in
Congress by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on the economy
and monetary policy.
Bernanke is expected to strike a dovish tone when he
addresses a congressional committee at 10:00 a.m. EDT (1400
GMT). Earlier on Wednesday, influential New York Fed President
William Dudley reinforced his own remarks from Tuesday, when he
damped speculation that the U.S. central bank was preparing to
reduce its monetary stimulus.
"A break from past statements, of course, will have a big
impact on the market, but I think (Bernanke's speech) will be
more of the same," said Rick Meckler, president of investment
firm LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.
The Fed's ultra loose monetary policy is one of the main
forces behind a rally in U.S. equities that has taken the S&P
500 and Dow industrials to record highs. Dudley's remarks
Tuesday boosted U.S. stocks in afternoon trading.
"We are at a point where there isn't really anything more
the Fed could do for stocks," said Meckler, adding that market
participants will be looking for clues on how the Fed plans to
handle the eventual winding down of its stimulus program.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 22.29 points or
0.14 percent, to 15,409.87, the S&P 500 gained 2.31
points or 0.14 percent, to 1,671.47 and the Nasdaq Composite
added 2.46 points or 0.07 percent, to 3,504.58.
Pfizer shares gained 3.2 percent to $29.71 after the
giant drug maker said it would unwind its remaining stake in
animal health business Zoetis.
Shares of luxury department store chain Saks Inc
jumped 15.7 percent to $15.82 after the New York Post, citing a
source briefed on the matter, reported that Saks had hired
Goldman Sachs to explore strategic alternatives that
included a possible sale.
Target Corp cited unseasonably cold weather as it
reported a 0.6 percent decline in first-quarter sales at U.S.
stores open at least a year. Target cut its full-year profit
forecast and its shares fell 2.9 percent to $69.20.
Toll Brothers shares rose 6.6 percent to $38.39
after the largest U.S. luxury homebuilder posted a 46 percent
rise in quarterly profit, suggesting the housing recovery is
picking up pace across the industry.