Investors were also encouraged by news that sales of previously occupied U.S. homes rose last month to the highest level in three and a half years.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 108 points at 15,495 points as of noon Wednesday, an increase of 0.7 per cent. It was up 40 points before Bernanke started speaking at 10 a.m.
The Standard and Poor's 500 rose 10 points to 1,679, an increase of 0.6 per cent.
The Nasdaq composite was up 17 points at 3,518, or 0.5 per cent.
The Federal Reserve is set to release minutes later Wednesday from its most recent policy meeting.